On our way to Canada, we had a layover in Iceland, Reykjavik, as soon as we landed, we immediately felt drawn to this mystical country.
Here are few facts about the country:
Iceland is a nordic island country in the north atlantic, with a population of 348,580 and an area of 103,000 km2, making it the most sparsely populated country in Europe. The capital and largest city is Reykjavík.
Iceland is volcanically and geologically active. The landscapes consistsof a plateau characterised by sand and lava fields, mountains, and glaciers, and many glacial rivers flow to the sea through the lowlands. Its high latitude and marine influence keep summers chilly, with most of the archipelago having a tundra climate.
The climate varies between different parts of the island. Generally speaking, the south coast is warmer, wetter, and windier than the north. The Central Highlands are the coldest part of the country. Low-lying inland areas in the north are the most arid. Snowfall in winter is more common in the north than the south.
Believe me there is so much to see in this country, to make it easy for you, we compiled our favorite places!
Iceland could very well be one of the best places in the entire world for whale watching. There are about eleven species which are regularly sighted year-round.
Although whales can be spotted all along the coast, there are three stunning main locations for whale watching tours. Húsavík is Iceland’s premier destination for whale watching. This small town has only 182 inhabitants and is surrounded by rolling green hills. If you’re there be sure to visit the Whale Museum!
You can see whales at any time of the year in Iceland but the best period is June to September when the warm seas are abundant with krill and fish.The peak time is June to August, so be sure to book in advance.
This is for you mountain lovers, imagine that you’re sitting on the shore of a lagoon as the crystal clear water laps at your toes, and one of the most stunning peaks of Iceland dominates the view. This is Vestrahorn, a 454 meter tall screen mountain, definitely one of our top spots to visit during your trip to Iceland.
Due to its rural location, it isn’t crowded so you can capture amazing shots tourist free. You will even enjoy strolling along the black-sand beach, petting the Icelandic ponies and if you’re lucky you might even see a few seals.
Not only are geysers great fun, but they are also a fairly rare natural phenomenon, only about 1,000 exist on the whole planet. Geysers are a natural spring which, when the water meets superheated magma far below our feet, it forces the water to bubble and gush upwards until it explodes into the air with unbelievable speed and, in some cases, incredible height. They are located in Haukadalur Valley, 90-minutes drive from the capital, Reykjavik. In fact, when active, it shoots boiling deep water up to 70 meters in the air.
Iceland is home to many magical landscapes from its multicolored mountains, lava trails, crystal clear lakes and calming hot springs. But, where can you find all of this incredible nature in just one area?
The answer, of course, is Landmannalaugar. You might be wondering what makes the unique colorings of the mountains as they stand proud against the skyline. The peaks are made a mineral-filled lava called Rhyolite, which, as it cools unusually slowly it creates splashes of rainbow colors.
Also, one of the best hikes in Iceland starts here, only from June to September.A challenging 55km hike where the landscape morphs into steaming and bubbling hot springs all along the route and the colors run wild through the mountain peaks. Book a full four-day tour to do the trail and really explore the area. It can be quite a difficult hike so make sure that you are fully prepared.
This white concrete church was designed by Guðjón Samúelsson in 1937 and can be seen from anywhere in the capital. Surprisingly, its design took inspiration from the volcanic basalt pillars that are dotted across Iceland’s countryside.
You could take part in this evening tour which will take you around Reykjavik and the surrounding area to discover much more history and folklore.
This dramatic coastline offers a majestic glimpse into the power of nature. As the sea gushes below you with turbulent waves you can stand atop this 120 meter coastline and, quite simply, enjoy the view.
The area is a designated bird sanctuary, primarily for puffins and arctic terns. Therefore, its part closed during nesting season in May and June. The exact dates vary from year to year.
Ice Caves in Vatnajökull Glacier
In the depths of Vatnajökull Glacier, there is an ever-shifting, ever-changing, colorful icy world just waiting to be discovered. If you ever thought that glacier could be only seen in National geographic documentaries, then you will love this place. Vatnajökull Glacier, at 8100 km2, is Europe’s largest glacier is best to be explored with a guided tour.
Catch the kaleidoscope of colors in the Northern Lights
These magical lights are still one of the wonders of the world. Actually caused by solar particles entering the earth’s magnetic field and being drawn to the North Pole we all know that you need good planning and luck in order to see them. In Iceland, they are visible almost 8 months out of the year and unlike other countries, there is less cloud cover which means that your probability just went up a notch!
The best time to see them is between October and April, with peak visibility from December to February. There is a simple formula to see them: complete darkness + no moonlight + no/part cloud cover + being at the right time in at the right place.
You could get active and head out to a remote spot either on your own or as part of a guided tour. There are many tours running from Reykjavik and Akureyri.
Your second option is to see the Northern Lights from a boat tour such as this one from Reykjavik.
Iceland has enough geothermal waters to satisfy everyone’s desires. So, what better way to enjoy Iceland than to join in! There are hot springs across the country, from the largest town to the most remote location, one of the most famous is the Blue Lagoon. The colored bright blue waters due to the large amounts of silica and sulfur lap against the jet black volcanic rocks.
The Blue Lagoon is just one of many options. So, be sure to look into some of the alternatives such as the remote and peaceful Myvatn Nature Baths, Landmannalaugar which is free and therefore, busy with other tourists, or the oldest man-made hot spring Seljavallalaug.
Gaze in wonder at the many waterfalls
Iceland is known for its amazing waterfalls. From Bruarfoss which is just 3 meters tall to Morsi Waterfall which tumbles from 240 meters. A trip to Iceland just isn’t complete without gazing at these stunning sites.
Among so many, we picked Skogafoss, Seljalandsfoss, and Gullfoss as the most stunning sites.
As you can see, Iceland is a paradise for nature lovers! Mystical as we like to say, all year long, you can plan a trip without being disappointed.
For those who have already been in Iceland, please share your insight in the comment section below and for those who plan to visit, let us know what you intend to visit!