Visiting Iceland is a dream for many travelers, but there is no secret that Iceland is one of the most expensive and sought-after destinations to travel to.
A week-long trip to Iceland will easily cost anywhere from $2-$5K to cover van rental, flights, food, and gas. We know personally because we spent a whole week driving around Iceland’s Ring Road in a campervan rental and it was to date the most expensive trip we’ve ever splurged on.
If this is out of your travel budget don’t be discouraged because it doesn’t mean that you should miss out on all the awesome sights that have made Iceland such a great travel destination.
From black sand beaches to waterfalls, volcanoes and hot springs, a trip to Oregon offers many similar attractions to Iceland but for a fraction of the cost.
We’ve already covered how to travel to Portland, Oregon for $30 round-trip using Spirit Airlines’ Penny Fares, so a trip to Oregon is well within everyone’s budget.
Here are 10 amazing equivalents in the ultimate battle of Oregon vs Iceland that will make you forget all about Iceland and change your course to Oregon, USA.
1. Black Sand Beaches
Both Iceland and Oregon are filled with volcanoes and the remnants of when those volcanoes where actively erupting and changing the landscape. A similar trait that both Oregon and Iceland share as a result of the past volcanic activity are black sand beaches.
The Secret Beach in Oregon is an amazing little gem with beautiful beaches and epic cliff views made of black basaltic rocks, similar to the Fauskasandur black sand beach in Iceland.
2. Deep Carved Waterfalls
One of the best parts about visiting both Oregon and Iceland are the endless waterfalls that can be found just about everywhere. After living in Oregon for a year, hunting for waterfalls has become quite the fun hobby for me.
You can imagine my excitement when I found out that some of the waterfalls in Oregon and Iceland share a similar trait of basalt columns that have formed around the waterfalls as a result of volcanic lava tubes. Both Toketee waterfall in Oregon and Aldeyjarfoss waterfall in Iceland share this similar trait and both are equally stunning.
For a full list of my 10 top favorite waterfall hikes in Oregon, you can read more here.
3. Mossy Canyons
The Oneonta Gorge in Oregon and the Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon in Iceland are true miracles of nature.
Both are deep canyons carved by the river below with beautiful mossy green cliffs surrounding you from every side. Where the Icelandic canyon is much bigger and wider, the Oneonta Gorge is a more adventurous hike with a rewarding waterfall at the end of it.
The Oneonta Gorge is only 30-minute drive from Portland so it’s the perfect short hike for anyone visiting Portland for the weekend. For other awesome waterfall hikes near Portland, check out our guide to the Columbia River Gorge waterfalls in Oregon.
4. Colorful Hills
While most people visiting Iceland stick around the Ring Road drive, the central inland area has some amazing colorful hills called Landmannalaugar.
These mountains are quite remote and hard to get to so most people skip this area on their trip. In Oregon, the Painted Hills are equally mesmerizing and colorful and are just a short drive away from Bend, OR.
5. Cave Waterfalls
One of the most popular waterfalls in southern Iceland is the Seljalandsfoss falls. Visitors can walk up to and behind this grand waterfall into a small cave that leads around it, just like the waterfalls at Silver Falls State Park in Oregon.
The Silver Falls State Park is famous for its 8-mile loop around the park that features 10 amazing waterfalls and caves.
6. Hot Springs
There’s nothing better after a long day of chasing waterfalls than hanging out and taking a dip in some relaxing natural hot springs.
Landbrotalaug hot springs in Iceland, a popular spot for both the locals and tourists alike, offers a great place to relax after a long day of driving Iceland’s Ring Road. But few hot springs can compare to the serenity of Umpqua hot springs in Oregon, which offers multiple hot spring tubs cascading on a mountainside, nestled deep in the midst of nature.
7. Crater Lakes
Similar to Kerið Lake in Iceland, Crater Lake in Oregon formed inside a volcanic crater and is one of the main attractions for tourists visiting the area. Both are equally breathtaking, but they do come in a variety of colors.
Where Crater Lake is a deep blue color that is hard to truly capture on camera, Kerið crater is aqua blue with red sand walls surrounding it all around.
8. Ocean Cliffs
While driving around Iceland, visitors can enjoy endless coastal views, each just as awe-inspiring as the last. One of the most beautiful areas to go hiking in Iceland is the Longdrangar cliffs viewpoints in Snaefelles Peninsula.
Similar to Iceland, Oregon has its own breathtaking coastline drive. Cape Kiawanda is a perfect example of the beauty found on Oregon’s coast with endless hiking possibilities, cliffs, caves, enormous sand dunes, and beautiful nature all around it.
Our article on 15 Things To Do Along the Oregon coast covers more on Oregon coastline’s beauty and the best places to visit on a road trip along the Oregon Coast.
9. Peaky Mountains
The Kirkjufell Mountain is one of the most photographed places in Iceland, but Mt Hood in Oregon stands close to it in both beauty and popularity.
Mt Hood is a great place to visit year round for activities like skiing and snowboarding, but one of the most breathtaking places to fully capture its grandeur in full scale is from Lake Trillium.
10. Hidden Waterfalls
The Svartifoss waterfall in Iceland is almost a split image of the Abiqua waterfall in Oregon.
Both waterfalls share the orange-brown basalt columns supporting the plunging water above and both waterfalls require a 30-40 minute hike into a cove at the base where hikers are rewarded with a stunning, intimate view of the towering waterfall right before their eyes.
You don’t need to fly halfway around the world to enjoy some of the most beautiful locations on Earth.
While Iceland is trending as one of the top travel destinations right now, Oregon has many of the same traits as Iceland without the ridiculously high cost or tourists crowds. While Oregon is still very low key and under the radar, our prediction is that it won’t stay that way for long.
Which one was your favorite, Oregon USA or Iceland? Share your favorite destination with us in the comments below!