If you are traveling to Iceland – good for you! Iceland is full of surprises and you are about to have a great adventure in the land of fire and ice! Some of the coolest places to see while traveling are usually not man-made, but rather natural formations. So read further to find out 21 and even more unique and cool rock formations in Iceland!
1. Reynisfjara black beach with caves and basalt columns
Reynisfjara beach is probably one of the most popular places in Iceland and for a good reason! It was also one of my favorite places to see! This beach is famous for its black sand and the huge basalt column wall at the shores of the ocean.
This wall is easy to climb and is an amazing place for photos. Black sand, dark grey basalt columns and a wild ocean is the perfect recipe for a dramatic photo! The big basalt column wall is not the only unique rock formation on the beach.
There are also two basalt column caves in the same mountain at the beach. One of them – Hálsanefshellir cave – you can see when you walk from the parking lot to the beach. But the other one – Reynisfjara cave – is located around the corner of the mountain.
You have to go along the beach between the mountain and the ocean to see it. It is better and safer to go there during low tide as there are very often dangerous waves that can pull people inside the ocean.
2. Reynisdrangar basalt sea stacks
Another reason why Reynisfjara beach is one of the most visited places in Iceland is definitely Reynisdrangar sea stacks in the ocean.
When you are at the beach, these sharp 66-meter-high rock formations near the coastline are very well visible. Some legends say that those were trolls who wanted to pull a ship ashore but were turned into stone when the sun came up.
3. Stuðlagil canyon and waterfall with basalt columns
Basalt column rock formations are famous in Iceland. And you have probably seen many pictures of the Studlagil canyon on the internet. I think this is one of the most picturesque places in Iceland and one of the most famous places to see the basalt columns!
Actually – this is the place in Iceland with the most amount of basalt columns. Visiting this canyon has a bonus – there is a huge basalt column waterfall next to the trail that leads to the canyon.
And you can climb up and get very close to this waterfall! However, you should know that you can only see this waterfall and access the canyon on the river level from the East side of the canyon.
And it will be a looong journey if you make a mistake and go to the West side. Read more about visiting this place in this blog post about 5 amazing canyons in Iceland.
4. Vestrahorn mountain
Vestrahorn mountain (454m) and the beautiful black sand Stokksnes beach next to it is probably one of the most photographed places in Iceland. This place is like a chameleon – during high tide, it becomes like a lagoon and the wet sand makes a beautiful reflection of the mountain.
But during low tide and when the sun shines, the water evaporates out of the black sand and it looks like the smoke is coming out of the ground.
You should know that this place is on private property and there is an entrance fee to see the beach and the mountain up close. You have to drive to the Viking Café, pay 6.50 EUR per person, and then you can enter the area.
The entrance fee also includes visiting an abandoned ‘Viking village‘ that was actually made for a movie but has long been left and forgotten and is breaking apart. There are also some hiking trails in the area – the routes will be given to you when you buy the entry tickets.
5. Gígjagjá – the Yoda cave
The Yoda cave was one of the most intriguing rock formations in Iceland for me. How is it possible that a cave somewhere in Iceland looks like Yoda from Star Wars, haha? But it really does!
Not so much from the outside, but definitely from the inside! Getting there is not difficult – just follow the road on the map to the exact location (link below). There will be a gravel road, sometimes quite bumpy, but very doable even for small cars.
Location: Yoda cave
6. Fjaðrárgljúfur – the famous river canyon
With a winding river and steep 100-meter walls, this canyon seems like a beautiful painting. Canyon walls are pretty unique – winding and forming rock formations in beautiful shapes! Definitely a unique place in Iceland!
Getting to the canyon is quite easy. Except for some gravel roads, you can actually drive very close to the canyon and the viewing platform. From there you can then walk downwards along the side of the canyon to see it from different perspectives.
7. Kirkjufell mountain
Kirkjufell means ‘the church mountain’ and it is one of the most iconic places in the Snæfellsnes peninsula. And also one of my favorite rock formations in Iceland! It is said that it is the most photographed mountain in Iceland as well!
The mountain is 463 meters high and has a very distinct shape. To me, it reminds a wizard’s hat, haha! The most popular spot to photograph the mountain is together with the waterfall near the parking lot.
8. Gljúfrafoss waterfall inside a mountain
Although the waterfall is not really a rock formation, however, it is located inside a small canyon in a mountain, so I have to include this beautiful place among the best rock formations in Iceland!
Visiting Gljúfrafoss waterfall was an adventure for sure! To access the waterfall you will have to go along the river through a narrow opening between the walls of a mountain.
However, it is not too difficult, because there are some big stones you can climb on to keep your feet relatively dry. Read more about 19 stunning waterfalls you should visit in Iceland in this blog post!
9. Thingvellir – canyon between the tectonic plates
Thingvellir is a national park and it is one of the most visited places in Iceland. It is not actually a canyon, but really a crack between the rocks that are separating from each other. Yes, Iceland is breaking apart at a rate of 2 centimeters a year.
Some people may think that this is the crack between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates, but it isn’t 100% true. The area where the tectonic plates meet is many kilometers wide and you can’t possibly point to one exact place where they meet or break.
However, this place is in the area and the crack has definitely formed due to the movement of the tectonic plates! Getting there is as easy as can be.
There is a huge parking lot with an Information center, restaurant, and shop, there are marked routes through the crack as well as multiple information signs where you can find out more about this place.
I would suggest going to the far end of the area called “Dead Man Walk” where the crack between the rocks is quite narrow and stands out very well. You can kind of see where the rocks are breaking – looks really cool!
10. Stone bridge and sea arch in Arnarstapi
Arnarstapi is a fishing village in the Snæfellsnes peninsula and a place you should definitely include in your Iceland itinerary! There is an area along the coastline full of unique and pretty amazing rock formations.
That includes a stone bridge that is connected to the shore (meaning – you can walk on it!) and a sea arch in the ocean with a circular hole on one side of it. You can park your car at two different places – at the Arnarstapi harbor or at the Arnarstapi hotel.
Both parking lots are connected to the walking path that goes along the coastline (it just goes there and back again). It is quite a popular short hike!
11. Hvitserkur – an animal-shaped rock formation
Hvítserkur is a 15-meter tall basalt rock formation in the ocean near the coast in the Northwest of Iceland. This is definitely one of the strangest and one of the most unique places and rock formations in Iceland!
Some say that this rock formation looks like a troll, a dragon, a rhino, an elephant – you name it! What do you think it looks like? I am torn between a rhino and a wild boar.
Getting there was a long drive – 25 kilometers on a gravel road (and that is only one way!) to see this place. At least there is a nice parking lot with tables to have lunch and rest after the drive.
There is a viewing platform on the cliff where you can see the rock formation from above. However, you can descend to the ocean level as well – there is a small steep path next to the viewing platform.
12. Svartifoss waterfall
Svartifoss waterfall means the ‘black falls’ and it is one of the most beautiful and iconic waterfalls in Iceland. All thanks to the black basalt columns that are surrounding it!
In case you are doing the Ring road or you are traveling in the direction of Diamond beach, you can use this opportunity to stretch your legs and take a walk to this magical waterfall.
Basalt columns are definitely those types of rock formations that are a symbol of Iceland, and you should definitely include such places in your Iceland itinerary! Read more about getting to this waterfall in this blog post!
13. Lómagnúpur mountain
Lómagnúpur mountain is one of the most unique mountains in Iceland and in the world! This 764-meter mountain not only looks impressive standing in an empty lava field but it was created in a unique way.
It is officially known as a subglacial mound. It was formed 1 to 3 million years ago when a volcano erupted under a thick layer of ice. The glacier was so thick that lava could not melt through the ice and was trapped below it.
So it solidified and took this unique shape. We stopped at the side of the road to take a picture of this beauty while driving around the Ring Road of Iceland.
14. Kerid crater
I like to include volcanos among rock formations because that is what they are – a formation of rocks and stones and minerals. With that said, the Kerid crater is definitely one of the most beautiful ones!
There is a beautiful lake inside the crater – 270 m long, 170 m wide, and 55 m deep – with stunning blue water. It is very easy to get to – there is a tarmac road and a paved parking lot.
You should know that there is an entrance fee of 3 EUR per person to visit the crater. However, it will be a beautiful hike around it and you can also climb down inside the crater to access the lake.
15. Dyrhólaey sea arch
Dyrhólaey Peninsula is a very popular place to visit in the South part of Iceland. Probably the most popular reason for visiting this place is because there is a big chance to see the puffins – sea birds that come to nest in the seacliffs during the summer season.
Another reason is that there is a beautiful view over an endless black beach (read more about beautiful beaches in Iceland in this blog post!). Thirdly, there is a beautiful huge volcanic sea arch. You can’t walk on it as it is THE place for puffins to build their nests, but it looks mighty from afar.
You should know that during mating season for the puffins (May-June) this area has working hours from 9 AM to 7 PM however those can change, so you should see for yourself!
16. Canyon of the famous Glymur waterfall
Canyons are some of my favorite places and rock formations in Iceland! And the canyon of the Glymuyr waterfall is definitely on the list of the most beautiful places! Did you know that the Glymur waterfall at 198-meters was known as the highest waterfall in Iceland?
Until recently, due to the melting of the Vatnajökull glacier, a new and higher waterfall has been uncovered – Morsárfoss! Read more about visiting this canyon in this blog post!
17. Hverfjall volcano
This incredibly impressive and 1-kilometer-in-diameter crater in the North of Iceland is one of the most unique places in Iceland! This crater is about 140 meters deep and looks simply apocalyptic! There is a hiking path to the rim of the crater as well as a path around the rim.
Getting there is quite easy as there is a parking lot at the feet of the volcano, but the hike to the top is only about 600 meters long. Definitely include this place in your itinerary, if you are driving around Iceland!
18. The Arctic Henge
I hope you have nothing against including man-made rock formations in this list because the Arctic Henge is truly a unique place to visit! It is located in one of the most remote villages very near the Arctic Circle – Raufarhöfn.
The Arctic Henge is a group of huge stone arches (6 meters tall) that are meant to be like a huge sundial. It is still under construction however all the arches are there and you can get some unique photos from unique angles.
19. Víti in Krafla
This is another one of those beautiful volcanos with a blue lake inside a colorful crater. The crater is about 300 meters in diameter, and the name of it means ‘hell’ – a description of the violent volcanic events that took place when this crater and other craters nearby were formed.
You can visit this place for free during summer or another season when the snow has already melted because it is located in the North of Iceland up in the mountains.
Driving there is quite easy – you can drive a tarmac road up to the very top of the volcano. There is a small path along the rim of the crater to see it from different angles.
20. Múlagljúfur – the fairytale canyon
Mulagljufur canyon is one of the most scenic places in Iceland. It is located in the Southwest part of the country and is a lesser-known place. If you like hidden gems and smaller crowds, this place is definitely for you.
The canyon offers incredible fairytale-like views over two valleys and rivers, as well as two waterfalls. And all that in front of a mountain backdrop. Read more about how to find this place in this blog post!
21. Rauðanes point rock formations
Rauðanes point in the far Northeast of Iceland is another unique coastal territory. This area is so remote and untouched that you might not even see a single person there.
However, here you will encounter truly beautiful natural coastal rock formations – stone arches and other rock formations in strange shapes. One of the hidden gems in Iceland for sure! Read more about getting there in this blog post!
Nature in Iceland is truly something special! I love visiting cool and strange places that have formed naturally, and Iceland was the perfect country for that. There is an abundance of interesting spots, so I hope you get to visit at least some of these rock formations in Iceland!
In my opinion, Iceland is THAT country everyone should visit once in their lives! It is full of magical and unbelievable nature spots and places you won’t really see anywhere else on Planet Earth! If you can, please, leave a comment below if there are any significant changes to anything that is written in this blog post! Many thanks!