10 Reasons To Skip Iceland And Head To Oregon Instead

10 reasons to travel to oregon vs iceland

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.


crater lake oregon volcano vs iceland


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

Toketee Waterfall Oregon vs Aldeyarfoss in Iceland

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

Oneonta gorge in Oregon vs Fjaðrárgljúfur Iceland

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

Painted Hills in Oregon vs Landmannalaugar in Iceland

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

Silver Falls Park Oregon vs Seljalandsfoss in Iceland

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

Umpqua Hot Springs in Oregon vs Landbrotalaug hot springs in Iceland

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

Crater Lake Oregon vs Kerid Crater Iceland

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

Cape Kiawanda in Oregon vs Longdrangar cliffs in Iceland

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

Mt Hood in Oregon vs Kirkjufell in Iceland

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

Abiqua waterfall vs Svartifoss in Iceland skip Iceland and head to Oregon Instead

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.


umpqua hotsprings oregon vs iceland hot springs


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!


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Laura, what time of year did you go to these spots in Oregon? Are they close together?


Awesome post!!! I’d have to say, Oregon won in a lot of your photos!!!


I’m a Portland native planning a trip to Iceland in September, I’m excited about Iceland but I’ll always love Oregon best.

One thing people don’t always know about Oregon is that there are plants that will thrive in Oregon and only one other place in the world. So it’s a gardeners dream location! We have plants from South America, China, Japan, etc all living happily side by side. No other place in the world can beat it!


Awesome article!! Been wanting to do Iceland for awhile, but might give Oregon a go!


Wow amazing comparisons! Thanks for sharing this!

Samantha Thomas

This is an AMAZING post thank you! I can see a lot of work put into it with the comparisons! Just planned my road trip next week and added about five of these stops to it! Easy planning!

Tiana Bantis

These are amazing spots! I love all your posts of Oregon, I can’t wait to visit in November!!


I have been to Iceland but this article definitely made me want to plan a trip to Oregon to get that feeling I had without the price. I saw the question as to what time of year is best to go and understand you lived there. What would you suggest is the best to visit to get the most out of the experience?

Brooke of Passport Couture

International travel always sounds glamorous, but I’m glad you brought up an alternative local option that is affordable and offers the same results. It’s great to know that Oregon is just as amazing as Iceland and nowhere near the same cost.


Can you see the Aurora borealis from Oregon?

Aleksandra Pavlova

Oregon is absolutely stunning, I had no idea! You just made me want to visit <3