Iceland is known as the land of fire and ice. The good thing is that the nickname is more about the country’s amazing scenery than its climate.
It doesn’t matter when you plan to visit the island, the temperature doesn’t vary much. So, pack you coat, gloves and boots and decide if you’d rather chase the northern lights or visit the puffins!
Here are ten reasons a trip to Iceland is unlike any other adventure!
1. Lounge in the Blue Lagoon
It’s mystical, it’s magical, and it’s the perfect first stop after a long flight.
The landmark gets its name from the aqua hue of its water. It gets that amazing color because of the rich minerals in the water.
The water looks even more magical because of the black lava rock lining the geothermal pools.
Buy your ticket and allow the warm water to ease away your aches and pains. Make sure you visit the bar in the middle of the lagoon and don’t forget to grab a complementary silica or mud mask for your face as you float in the warm water.
If you don’t make it to the Blue Lagoon, take advantage of one of the dozens of other geothermal pools offered around the country. It’s an experience you won’t forget.
2. Fall in Love with Waterfalls
You haven’t experienced all Iceland has to offer until you visit several of the country’s breathtaking waterfalls. There are thousands, so you’re never far from one! Each waterfall is different, but each is powerful with raw energy that’s amazing to see.
In the spring and summer, the falls, such as Gullfoss on the Golden Circle, will likely be surrounded by green grass and other small shrubbery. During the winter, you may be treated to gushing water while the banks are lined with snow.
The waterfalls are amazing to see in all seasons, and many are easily accessible.
3. Let off Some Steam
Stokkur is Iceland’s famous geysir.
It’s the country’s version of America’s Old Faithful, but there will be fewer people … and you won’t wait as long for the payoff!
The steam pours out of this Geyser every several minutes! If you’re lucky, it will happen as it snows around you!
Stokkur is also a stop on Iceland’s Golden Circle. It’s popular with tourists so there is a visitors center with restrooms and a couple of restaurants, if you’re ready for a snack.
4. The Lava Tube
Iceland is full of experiences you can only have on the island. The Lava Tunnel is one of those options. The name of the most popular lava tunnel, or tube, is Raufarhólshellir, but don’t let the unique name scare you!
This lava tube is one of the country’s longest. It was formed after a volcanic eruption more than 5000 years ago.
Even better? It’s only 30 minutes outside of Reykjavik!
Another plus is that you can visit the lava tube year round. If you happen to visit in winter, you may also be treated to ice sculptures that form at the tube’s entrance.
5. Watch Icebergs Form
You’ll find the amazing Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon along Iceland’s south coast. It’s about a 5 hour drive from Reykjavik, but it’s worth it!
The clear water filling this lake all comes from the melting glacier you see!
If you’re lucky, you’ll be there when ice breaks from the glacier. The iceberg floats on the lake or out to sea.
6. Black Sand Beaches
Another thing that makes Iceland unique are the country’s black sand beaches.
One of the more popular beaches is named Reynisfjara and located near Vik, a community in the south part of the country.
This beach is made of black sand from volcanic eruptions. That’s not the only thing that makes the area amazing. You’ll also find basalt columns, cliffs and lava caves near the water.
You are not going to find another place like this on Earth!
7. Northern Lights
Thousands of people travel to Iceland every year in hopes of seeing the Northern Lights.
The amazing sight can only be viewed during specific conditions, and only when the sky is as dark as possible. Because of that, you’ll only be able to view the lights on certain nights from September to mid-April.
You’re more likely to see the phenomenon outside of town because the sky is darker, but it is possible to see the Northern Lights when you’re in Reykjavik.
Make it a point to look up at the sky when you’re out at night in the city!
8. Go Wild Over the Wildlife
If it’s the wildlife bringing you to Iceland, you’ll want to pay attention to the time you visit.
You’ll be able to see the sweet Icelandic horses year round. They are smaller and have coarse and oily hair to protect them from Iceland’s unforgiving wind and cold.
Whale watching is also a year-round business in Iceland. However, the best time to spot whales is in the warmer months between April and October.
Puffins are a different story. If you want to see the cute little birds in the wild, the best time to do so is late April through early September.
9. Best View in Reykjavik
Hallgrímskirkja is the massive church that you can see from all over Reykjavik. That makes it easy to find. Just start walking uphill and you’ll eventually arrive at the church.
Hallgrímskirkja is a Luthern church. At nearly 75 meters, it towers over other buildings. The church is so big, it took 41 years to build.
It also offers one of the best views of Reykjavik. Visit the observation deck and you’ll see rooftop after rooftop, all the way to the mountains outside of town.
The tower is open longer hours in the warmer months than it is during winter. Admission to the observation tower is around 8 euro.
While you’re in the area, walk across the street to Cafe Loki. The restaurant serves an amazing rye ice cream. The country’s national dish of Hakarl, a.k.a fermented shark, and the famous Icelandic drink Brennivin, or “Black Death,” are also on the menu.
10. Into the Glacier
Yes, you can actually walk inside a glacier!
This is a “must-do” even if it’s just used to brag to your friends. A guide will usher you through the man-made tunnels. You’ll even see blue ice on your journey.
There are all kinds of guided tours you can take from Reykjavik to the glacier. You can also drive yourself to the base camp, but you may need a 4X4 vehicle to get there, even in the summer.
Do a little planning before you head to Iceland. At this point, there is no Uber in Iceland. Reykjavik is very walkable. You’ll have no problem finding a fantastic restaurant serving up amazing fresh sea food.
If you’re looking for a cheaper option, try an Icelandic hot dog from one of several walk-up stands around the city.
You will need to rent a car, book a tour, or rely on the country’s bus system and taxis to get to areas outside of the city.
Heidi developed a strategy that combines travel hacking and uncovering premium pricing allowing her to travel the world at the most affordable prices. She chronicles her experiences and winning strategy at ClaimedBaggage.com.
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