10 Amazing National Parks and Nature Reserves in Iceland

Martina Rosado
Written by
Last update:

Hvalnes Nature Reserve

Located at the western coast of Iceland, the Hvalnes Nature Reserve contains a highly prized strand of Icelandic landscape which cannot be found anywhere else. Established in 1981, the reserve is the largest nature reserve in Iceland and it ranks among the largest protected areas in the whole of Europe. Heavily influenced by the small glaciers and tundra that dominate the island, in the reserve you can find volcanic rock, extinct lava fields, grasslands, bogs, mosses, lagoons, bare salt-water beaches, mineral-rich coastline, forests, bird cliffs, mountains, and in the distance you can observe the North Atlantic Ocean and the open Báráninn Vióin, the Whale’s Back.

There are several hiking trails in the reserve, according to the type of landscape you’re aiming to experience. The fertile bogs should be explored on the bog trail (15km), where you’ll have some amazing views of the bogs, both from the soil and from the coastline stretching across them.

The landscape before the introduction of humans has been largely preserved intact in the reserve and its beaches are home to many rare birds and shorebirds.

Longtime visitors end up more than content with the sea views which provide them with a beautiful wintertime drawing for the masses.

Thorsmork Nature Reserve

Breidafjordur Nature Reserve

Vatnsfjordur Nature Reserve

Vatnsfjordur Nature Reserve is located in the far north of Iceland, about a 2-hour drive from the town of Hofn, near the Geopark Svartifoss, Iceland’s highest waterfall.

Located at the end of the Vatnsfjordur River, Vatnsfjordur Nature Reserve is Iceland’s largest forested area.

When you hear the term ‘Bridge of the Gods,” the name Vatnsfjordur Nature Reserve often comes to mind.

If you also get the idea of a ‘Bridge of the Gods,” Vatnsfjordur Nature Reserve may have caught your attention.

The Vatnsfjordur River is the largest river in the area and the Vatnsfjordur Nature Reserve has several examples of erosion features from the prehistoric glacial cycle.

The best known is the ‘Bridge of the Gods,” which has a length of 700 m and is formed of two large caves longitudinally eroded in columnar basalt.

It was formed during the last stages of the last glacial cycle and is one of the few remaining glacial features in Iceland.

Heidmork Nature Reserve

Heidmork is a little owned, but huge reserve area that has got plenty to offer for all nature lovers. Close to the larger picturesque Hengill lake, Heidmork nature reserve is one of the most popular Minnesota national parks for visitors.

When you're at Heidmork Nature Reserve, you'll be amazed by its undisturbed and many pristine natural wonders. History tells that this natural Reserve has been connected to the Hjalte-foss waterfall back 2000 years ago.

Hjalte-foss waterfall is a popular tourist attraction in the area and is a three-mile hike away from Heidmork Nature Reserve. But if you're not into such long distances, you can always zip over to spectacular wall of the waterfall with a kayak.

Continuing the fun hike, you'll als find a unique majestic waterfall. Hottesbakkafoss is an impressive cascade worth a visit.

This 'cascade waterfall' is the most famous National Park waterfall in Iceland and is located from the road to Myvatn. Hottesbakkafoss is the largest waterfall in Iceland with a height of 125 feet. This waterfall has certain architectural features and it is said that it resembles the shape of a dinosaur or giant bat.

Hornstrandir Nature Reserve

Fjallabak Nature Reserve

Iceland.

The nature reserve Fjallabak which means "The Valley of the Mountains" is located in the southwest of Iceland just next to the glacier Vatnajökull. It is guarded by some of the highest plateaus found in Iceland. The mountains Snaefell, Storafjellet, Eyjafjallajokull and Esjan are the best 'point of view points' from where you can admire the beautiful scenery, lush forests and impressive glaciers.

Fjallabak Nature Reserve, Iceland. Photo: Benedikt Gronvaldsson

The area offers much variety. Snaefell rises 1500m from the valley floor whereas Storafjellet reaches 1000m. The reserve comprises several hot springs which have a temperature of up to 40 degrees Celsius. The hot-cold waters yield remarkable scented herbs, plants and flowers.

Thingvellir National Park

Thingvellir National Park is located on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge in Iceland. Because of its location on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, Thingvellir is one of the most important geological sites on earth.

Thingvollir was formed when the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates were at a right angle, creating new crust and igniting the formation of hotspots. These hotspots are the magma bodies that formed Iceland.

It is from this magma that Iceland's volcanoes and lava fields were formed. It is also from this same magma that Iceland's most famous waterfall, "Seljalandsfoss," was formed.

Due to the ancient geological significance of Thingvellir National Park in Iceland, the University of Iceland, Iceland's national research institute, operates tours where you can learn about the park.

Thingvellir National Park is also visited to this day by Iceland's president every summer.

Snaefellsjokull National Park

& Snæfellsjökull Glaciers, South Coast of Iceland.

I would like to share some wonderfull fotos from Iceland. Snaefellsjokull National Park is on Reykjanes peninsula, in South coast of Iceland. The glacier calve the water which make rivers and waterfalls like Skaftafell waterfall, Seljalandsfoss waterfall, Svartifoss waterfall and many others. Snæfellsjökull National Park is on Snæfellsnes peninsula.

Landscape is amazing and Snaefellsjokull glacier always changing colour. You can reach Snæfellsjokull glacier by boat, there are cruise boats from Reykjavik and it is a very cool trip. Interesting thing about Snæfellsjokull National Park is that there is Underwater Park. All stars on Snæfellsjökull glacier look like real stars, they are considered very rare phenomenon for the skywatchers and they are very cool to watch in the night. You can reach Snæfellsjokull glacier by boat and it is very cool with two tours a day.

Vatnajokull National Park

It is the largest national park in the country of Iceland, located in East Iceland. The park consists of four glacial areas with the Vatnajokull glacier at the centre of the park. The glacier tongue covers a total area of 4,100 square kilometres (1,500 sq mi).

Vatnajokull is a popular site for hiking, ice climbing, and sightseeing. Localities in the area such as Langjohrdalur, Skogar, Hljoerdal, and Stykkisholmur make for a great base from which to visit the park.