From soaring glaciers to spectacular ice blue lagoons and just about every natural wonder in between, the tiny country of Iceland packs a punch when it comes to stunning scenery. Epic road trip routes link travellers with the best places to visit in Iceland, leading to ice caves, towering waterfalls, and outdoor adventures like whale watching, glacier hiking and even scuba diving. From spellbinding landscapes to crazy cuisine, here are five reasons you should go to Iceland now.
Visit Iceland to see the Northern Lights
Ah, the Aurora Borealis. It’s hard to beat the mesmerizing sight of green, purple and pink skies dancing in the night, and Iceland is one of the best spots in the world to take it in. While there’s never a guarantee that you’ll be lucky enough to see them, time your visit between September and April when the sky is darkest. It also helps to stay in the country more than a few days, as the Northern Lights will sometimes put on a show for a few days, then simply disappear for the rest of the week.
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See why the Blue Lagoon is one of the top things to do in Iceland
The Blue Lagoon is one of the top Iceland attractions, thanks to its luminescent hue and healing waters. Located about 45 minutes from the capital Reykjavik which makes it possible to do as a quick day trip, the lagoon is full of geothermal seawater that stays piping hot all year round. Not only is it perfect for a scenic soak, but it’s also said to have healing properties for those who suffer from skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.
Note: the water’s properties can wreak absolute havoc on your hair, so be sure to bring a swim cap if you have long locks. It also helps to pre-book a ticket as the Blue Lagoon is rightfully popular, or you can book a tour around the Golden Circle route which includes stops at geysers, waterfalls and a soak in the lagoon. Click to book
To take a road trip to see Iceland points of interest
While Iceland may be tiny (at least compared countries like Canada and the USA) that doesn’t mean you can zip around it in a day. That’s why self-drive tours are highly recommended for anyone heading to the so-called Land of Fire and Ice.
Most Iceland vacation packages last anywhere from three days to two weeks, and include accommodation, car rentals and a well-planned itinerary. The 300-kilometre ‘Golden Circle’ route is always a crowd-pleaser, as it features a national park, waterfall, volcanic crater and geysers. Here are a few tips you should know about exploring Iceland.
Other Iceland attractions worth seeing include:
- Skaftafell National Park: Step inside a natural blue ice cave and walk on Vatnajökull, which is Europe’s largest glacier.
- Húsavík: This town is known as Iceland’s whale watching capital, where visitors hop on a traditional oak boat to watch the whales, dolphins and sea birds who call surrounding Skjálfandi Bay home.
- Raufarhólshellir Lava Tunnel: Explore this underground lava tube, which was formed during a volcanic eruption over 5,000 years ago.
- Snæfellsnes Peninsula: This area is like something straight out of National Geographic, thanks to the majestic Snæfellsjökull glacier, black sand beaches and towering mountain of Kirkjufell.
- Silfra Fissure: Divers will want to include this special spot on their list of Iceland places to visit. Slip on a dry suit, and snorkel between the tectonic plates of North America and Europe at the Silfra Fissure in Þingvellir National Park.
To sample the best things to eat in Iceland
Icelanders may not think anything of their culinary creations…but it’s safe to say the rest of us get queasy at the thought of some the country’s most popular dishes. Some of the food to eat in Iceland includes horse meat, puffin and Svið, which is essentially a sheep’s head cut in half—gross! Oh and how about Hákarl, which is fermented shark that has been described as “the world’s most disgusting food”—a statement at least two celebrity chefs agree with. While deciding what to eat in Iceland may leave something to be desired, there’s no question it’s the perfect place for an eating contest!
To get in touch with nature
Finally, the reason pretty much everyone should go to Iceland: the scenery. The country is a land of contrasts, with everything from barren landscapes with jagged rocks to rolling green hills, and black sand beaches to towering glaciers. Fjords, bursting geysers and lava fields are just some of the sights that lure visitors from around the world, and there’s no shortage of rugged coastline where waves from the north Atlantic or Arctic oceans crash against the shore.
With just one lingering look at the untouched, impressive landscape, it’s clear to see why trips to Iceland belong on every bucket list.
Practicalities for planning a trip to Iceland
It’s not easy to visit Iceland on a budget, since it’s remote location means sky-high food prices, and the Iceland tourist attractions are widely spread out so you’ll need some form of transportation. There are plenty of car and camper van rentals available which will give you the freedom to explore at your own pace. Alternatively, book one of these organized tours to see the best of Iceland:
Best tours in Iceland:
Where to stay in Iceland:
Due to flight times, almost all visitors end up spending at least one night in the capital before heading off to explore the rest of the country. Here are a few of the top-rated places to stay in Reykjavik.
- Reykjavik Residence Hotel: The apartment-style accommodations make a great base for those planning an extended stay, and larger suites are available for families with lots of space so everyone’s comfortable. Click to book
- Alda Hotel Reykjavik: The large, modern rooms boast bold design choices, and the property is located close to some of the city’s main attractions. Guests love the helpful staff, and that there’s also a hot tub on site. Click to book
- Black Pearl – Reykjavik Finest Apartments: These bright, super modern apartments have luxe bedding and fully equipped kitchens, and the convenience location in downtown Reykjavik means it’s an easy walk to the main landmarks. Click to book
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This post was presented in part by Guide to Iceland. As always, partners have no editorial influence on articles.