Don’t let the name fool you, there’s more to Iceland than icy landscapes and glaciers. Iceland is one of those islands that has it all – volcanoes, glaciers, oceans and coastlines, mountains, and countrysides. Not only is Iceland quickly becoming one of the most visited destinations in the world, it’s been a long standing favorite for classic Hollywood blockbusters (does Game of Thrones and Star Wars ring a bell?).
So, why should you travel to Iceland? Here’s 5 reasons why:
1. Explore the iconic Ring Road
The Ring Road is one of Iceland’s most popular attractions because you can get a taste of everything that the island has to offer. It’s a long stretch of road that loops around the entire island so you’ll be able to fully experience cities, coastline, mountains, glaciers, volcanoes, and more! It technically takes around 17 hours to complete if the weather conditions permit, but I recommend turning this into a road trip.
The best way to explore the Ring Road is by renting a camper van and driving at your own pace. Pull over wherever you like, stay for however long you want, and have total freedom in your vacation! It’s a fun and unique take on a road trip that ends up saving you money in the long run because you don’t have to spend the night at hotels. Plus, most camper vans come with all of the necessities you need, like a bed and pillows, gas stove and refrigerator, kitchenware, and more. So you don’t have to worry about packing heavy!
2. See the Northern Lights in person
The Aurora Borealis is a spectacle that is best experienced in person, pictures just don’t do it justice! Since Iceland is located so far north and night fall comes early during the winter months, it’s one of the best places to take in the northern lights. On clear nights, it’s a full display of dancing colors that move across the sky. The best time to see the northern lights is from September to mid-April – days are shorter and it’s dark by 6 pm.
3. Loop around the Golden Circle
Located in the southwest region of Iceland, it’s comprised of three main destinations: Gullfoss Waterfall, Þingvellir National Park, and the Geysir Geothermal Area. Each location is globally recognized for its beauty and uniqueness, and the best part is, it’s only a couple hours away from Reykjavik! Easily accessible but highly memorable, don’t leave Iceland without looping around the Golden Circle. See details about each location below.
Gullfoss Waterfall is one of the most beloved spots in Iceland due to its sheer magnitude, beauty, and power. The waterfall is thundering and a gold sheen naturally hits the water, attributing to its name. After you’ve finished exploring, stop by the cafe for a bite of local cuisine and delicacies.
Þingvellir National Park is split between two tectonic plates – the Eurasian plate and the North American Plate. It’s the only place in the world where this rift is visible and above sea level, so you can actually be in two places at once! The effects that the moving tectonic plates have had on the land are evident with the vast ravines spread throughout the park where the earth ripped open. Volcanoes are also present here, but haven’t erupted in nearly 2,000 years (they’re not considered inactive though).
Geysir Geothermal Area is an area on the Golden Circle that contains extremely active geysers that can shoot hot water and boiling mud nearly 30 meters into the air. As popular as the geysers in Yellowstone National Park, it’s a must see if you’re ever in Iceland!
4. Spend the day at the Blue Lagoon
Just 45 minutes away from Reykjavik, the Blue Lagoon makes for a perfect day trip. Nearly everyone that visits Iceland also visits the Blue Lagoon, and rightfully so. It’s known worldwide for it’s warm milky blue waters, stark contrast to the black lava rocks, and mineral rich waters perfect for soothing the skin and muscles. Relax the mind, body, and soul, but make sure to book your appointment in advance!
5. Enjoy music and dinner in Reykjavik
While Iceland is well known for its beautiful landscapes and natural wonders, the city life is also a worthy reason to make the trip out there. Reykjavik, the capital city, is home to diverse music, food, and charming architecture and city streets. Get some shopping done on Laugavegur, catch a concert at Harpa, or eat your way through the city at 5 star restaurants and local eateries. Feeling adventurous? Sample fermented shark – an Iceland delicacy and popular fare among locals.
Are you a history buff? Learn everything there is to know about early settlements in Iceland, vikings, and the Norse Gods at the Viking World Museum. Conveniently located near the airport, leave Iceland with an extra bit of knowledge that you can share when you get home.
Start Planning Your Trip!
Whether you’re an outdoorsy traveler or prefer to explore the city streets and history, Iceland has something for everyone. You’ll be welcomed by the friendliest locals, immersed in the island’s culture, and have a front row seat to some of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the world. Start planning your trip!
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