Iceland is a place where fire and ice co-exist. Despite the name, “ice” only covers about 10% of the land, but still represents the largest glaciers left in Europe.
It is a diverse country with many contrasts and beautiful and dramatic landscapes, spurting geysers, volcanic activity, thermal pools, glaciers and waterfalls are also an adventure playground.
Where dark winters show spectacular Northern Lights and are offset by the summer’s midnight sun.
And hip Reykjavík with a rich and vibrant culture and popular musical exports like Björk and Sigur Rós.
|COUNTRY SIZE||103,000 sq km||POPULATION||329,100|
|CURRENCY||Króna (ISK)||GDP 2014 (MISK)||1,993,336|
Where to stay?
Would you like to stay in a hotel, guesthouse, hostel, farmhouse, maybe a sleeping bag,
or doing camping? We recommend that you book in advance during the travel
season. Iceland has been getting popular for the past 2-3 years and accommodation
is becoming more expensive. So plan your trip early and compare booking websites.
1 → Stroll around the city of Reykjavik
Reykjavik is a very nice and lively city. You should spend at least one or two evenings
in the capital city. It has lots of very nice and little coffee shops, great restaurant
and goods bars with often live music.
The bars are crowded on the weekend with people from all over the world and for sure
a lot of Icelanders!
And if it’s raining, that can happen a lot, there are many good galleries and museums. Here are some options:
→ “Reykjavik Museum Of Photography”
The museum’s exhibitions focus on Icelandic photography, works from Collection and works of foreign photographers. The museum exhibits both historical and contemporary photography in artistic- social- and cultural context.
Reykjavik Museum Of Photography
→ “The Icelandic Phallological Museum”
One very interesting museum to see! It is probably the only museum in the world to contain a collection of phallic specimens belonging to all the various types of mammal found in a single country. A collection of more than two hundred penises and penile parts belonging to almost all the land and sea mammals that can be found in Iceland.
The Icelandic Phallological Museum
→ Hallgrímskirkja Cathedral
Hallgrímskirkja church of Hallgrímur is a Lutheran parish church in Reykljavik. 73 metres high (244 ft), it is the largest church and the tallest structure in Iceland. It is named after the Icelandic poet and clergyman Hallgrimur Pétursson (1614-1674).
→ Harpa concert hall
Harpa is a concert hall and conference centre in Reykjavik. The building features a coloured glass facade inspired by the basalt landscape of Iceland. In 2013, the building won the European Union’s Mies van der Rohe award for contemporary architecture
2 → Watch the Aurora Borealis – the Northern Lights
The Northern Lights is a must-see when visiting Iceland during the months of September to March.
Iceland may be simply the best place to view the Aurora dance. To experience this eternally mystical spectacle, you need to be under the Northern Lights Belt. You need darkness and Iceland has in winter.
Take your car and head out of Reykjavik or the town you are staying. You need darkness and no light pollution. The sky must be clear to have a great view.
If you don’t want to drive on your own at night in the dark you, you can book a local Aurora hunting specialist, which will be Mountain Taxi. This will multiply your chances to watch this spectacular event.
There are some good Aurora apps for download, that will give you a % figures to see Northern Lights, and during what time.
3 → The Golden Circle
It is one of the main routes to visit Iceland’s three beautiful natural landmarks. You can make the drive in 5 hours but take an entire day to have enough time to take good pictures and stroll around:
Feel the energy of the amazing Gullfoss (Golden Falls) waterfall. The water comes from the river Hvítá, which plunges about 32 m (105 ft.) deep. You can also see the thundering waterfall by the surrounding rocks or from the viewing platform above.
→ Strokkur geyser
Every 4-8 minutes in a thrilling display of nature, the Strokkur geyser shoots a column of water up to 30 metres (98 ft.) into the air. Walk around the hot spring area and experience the energy of this nature, the bubbling in geothermal activity.
→ Pingvellir National Park
That’s where the Icelandic parliament was established in 930 AD. It is a place of natural beauty and a UNESCO World Heritage site, and where the continents of Europe and North America meet.
4 → Go To Vik & Dyrhólaey
Vik & Dyrhólaey is about 180 km to the south east of Reykjavik. It is an easy drive of 3 hours with many beautiful sites on its way. The rolling Atlantic waves and the black sandy beaches are spectacular. It’s an incredible area for hiking, bird watching, paragliding, snowmobile tours, horse riding, walks on the Sólheimajökull glacier, it has a wool centre and a wool gallery.
Just a walk from the town centre you can see a spectacular set of rock columns called Reynisdrangar, which rise majestically out of the Atlantic Ocean. Or take the car and follow the signs to get to a viewpoint on the other side the mountain, the Reynisfjall. An amazing site to see the sunset and take lots of pictures.
Dyrhólaey is a 120 meters high headland extending into the sea, forming an impressive natural arch located in the western part of the Mýrdalur district. In the summer, the peninsula is home to hosts of puffins.
You should stay overnight before travelling further down to the Glacier Lagoon next day. The region has a good travel services all year around.
Visit www.visitvik.is to find more information about accommodation, restaurants, and tours in the area.
5 → The roaring Skógafoss waterfall
On the way to Vik, approximately 2 hours, along the Southern Ring Road is the breath-taking view of the beautiful 60-metre high Skogáfoss waterfall with scenic surroundings and the snow-capped heights of two glaciers. The stairs to the right are leading to the top of the waterfalls with a platform overlooking the open plain and down the waterfall. The path continues following the river upstream – where more dramatic waterfalls are to be found. A great hike!
6 → Seljalandsfoss waterfall
About a 15 minutes drive from Skógafoss you will get to the Seljalandsfoss waterfall. We the Skogáfoss waterfall on our way to Vik and the Seljalandsfoss waterfall on the way back to Reykjavik.
A great thing to do is a walk on the little path behind the waterfall. Amazing! But make sure to have spikes or rubber walking aid on your shoes in winter. It’s very slippery from all the ice! And DON’T forget your waterproof jackets. It will get wet.
7 → Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
The Glacier Lagoon is about 190 km from Vik, a 2 hours drive, or approximately 5-6 hours from Reykjavik. It’s a beauty that you shouldn’t miss seeing and taking pictures. We spend half a day at the lagoon and the nearby “Diamond Beach”.
The main lagoon measures about 7 square miles (20 km2) and until 1932 was covered in thick glacial ice. Then the glacier started to retreat, and nowadays more than 300 feet (100 m) of ice breaks away each year to reshape the lagoon and fill it with spectacular icebergs.
8 → A hike to the crashed DC plane on the black sandy beach
In 1973 a United States Navy DC plane ran out of fuel and crashed on the black beach at Sólheimasandur. Fortunately the crew survived. It’s an amazing and thrilling picture that you will find after a 4.5 km walk across the black sandy lava fields. But the hike is worth doing AND don’t forget your camera! See also Sólheimasandur plane wreck.
9 → Eat Icelandic cuisine
Icelandic cuisine has changed a lot in the last few decades from involving mainly lamb or fish. Certainly you will find restaurants with traditional Icelandic cuisine. And you should try the local dishes. Yummy! Maybe try a Svið, a baked sheep head, which might be an experience.
But don’t worry, you can also find several vegetarian restaurants in Reykjavík and vegetarian dishes widely available at other restaurants.