Top 10 Things to See and Do in Iceland

Top 10 Things to See and Do in Iceland

Tags :

Category : Europe , Iceland

If we say the word ‘Iceland’ many of you will instantly conjure up images of stunning natural beauty, hauntingly quiet lakes, lost castles and (if you’re reading this at lunchtime) delicious fish dishes. But, there is plenty more to discover in Iceland, so we thought we’d take you on a whistle-stop tour of the top ten things to see and do. Ready?

10. Whale Watching

Iceland could very well be one of the best places in the entire world for whale watching. In fact, the whale-ultra-celeb, Keiko from Free Willy, was captured in Reyðarfjörður Fjord, Iceland. Keiko was a Killer Whale but there are about eleven species which are regularly sighted year-round.

Iceland’s best spots for whale watching. 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 MuseumEyjafjörður is the longest Fjord in Iceland and Reykjavík, the capital, has a friendly, colorful and welcoming feeling that you’ll love!

Best time to visit? You can see whales at any time of the year in Iceland but the best period is during summer (June-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.

Whale near Husavik City in Iceland

Whale near Husavik City in Iceland

9. Vestrahorn Mountain

Imagine this, you’re sitting on the shore of a gentle lagoon as the crystal clear water laps at your toes, a flat black sand beach that you are sitting on stretches out before you and one of the most stunning peaks of Iceland dominates the view. Vestrahorn, a 454 meter (1,489 foot) tall screen mountain is definitely one of our top spots to visit during your trip to Iceland.

Why go there? To capture this awe-inspiring landscape on camera, due to its rural location, it isn’t crowded so you can capture amazing shots tourist free. If photography isn’t your passion don’t worry, you’ll enjoy strolling along the unique black-sand beach, petting the Icelandic ponies and if you’re lucky you might even see a few seals.

Best time to visit? Open all year but, remember in Winter that it will be both cold and icy so be prepared for a somewhat difficult trip. You’ll be rewarded with snowy peaks, icy-black reflections on the water and moody skies.

Map location: Vestrahorn Mountain

Vestrahorn mountain and Stokksnes beach

8. Geysers

Not only are geysers great fun (hands up how many of you have jumped with surprise when a geyser currently erupts), 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. The term ‘Geyser’ was actually coined from the Icelandic work ‘geysa’ which means ‘to gush.’

Where to go? The ancient Great Geysir is located in Haukadalur Valley, 90-minutes drive from the capital, Reykjavik. Although for now, this sleeping giant is classified as dormant the Great Geysir was the first European Geysir to be discovered. In fact, when active, it shoots boiling deep water up to 70 meters (229 foot) in the air.

Not far from the Great Geysir is the restless Strokkur Geysir which erupts every few minutes! Although smaller in eruption size, at just 20 meters, you’ll be able to watch it a few times during your visit, we still jump every time it does though.

Map location: Great GeysirStrokkur Geysir

Blue pool with the Strokkur Geyser in Iceland

Blue pool with the Strokkur Geyser in Iceland

7. Landmannalaugar

Iceland is home to many magical landscapes from its multicolored mountains, meandering lava trails, crystal clear lakes and calming hot springs. But, where can you find all of these incredible natural phenomena 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 – Laugavegurinn (which takes in rainbow-colored hills to jet-black volcanic deserts, mystical ice caves, and luscious green valleys) starts here.

Laugavegurinn Hike. A challenging 34 mile (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. It can be quite a difficult hike so make sure that you are fully prepared.

Best time to visit? Landmannalaugar is only accessible in the Summer months, from June to September. For the rest of the year, the roads are closed.

Map location: Landmannalaugar

Landmannalaugar in Iceland

Landmannalaugar in Iceland

6. Hallgrimskirkja

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.

Why go there? Atop of the hill, with his back to the church, it seems that the statue of Leifur Eiríksson, Discoverer of America, is standing guard. There are great views from here, but take the lift next to the main door of the church and you’ll be whisked up to the viewing platform and rewarded with panoramic views over the capitals bright rooftops and beyond.

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.

Best time to visit? From mid-June to mid-August there is a roster of activities in the church, from Choir Concerts, organ recitals on the 5000-pipe organ and Sunday services.

Map location: Hallgrimskirkja

Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral, Reykjavik, Iceland

Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral, Reykjavik, Iceland

5. Dyrhólaey

This dramatic coastline offers a majestic glimpse into the ferocious power of nature. As the sea gushes below you with turbulent waves you can stand atop this 120 meter (393 foot) coastline and, quite simply, enjoy the view. If you’re feeling a little bit like a daredevil then you can walk the archway and stand at, what seems like, the edge of the world.

Why go there? The simple answer is: for the incredible views in all directions. Looking out North you’ll see the bewilderingly large Mýrdalsjökull glacier (Iceland’s fourth largest ice cap), turn eastwards for the interesting Reynisdrangar rock formations and to the west, your gaze will follow a seemingly endless black sand coastline.

Best time to visit? The area is a designated bird sanctuary, primarily for puffins and arctic terns. As such, its part closed during nesting season in May and June. The exact dates vary from year to year.

Map Location: Dyrhólaey

Huge Sea Arch In Turquoise Blue Ocean. Dyrholaey Sea Arch in Iceland

Huge Sea Arch In Turquoise Blue Ocean. Dyrholaey Sea Arch in Iceland

4. 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 Elsa from Disney’s ‘Frozen’ was cool, then you will love this place.

Where to go? Vatnajökull Glacier, at 8100 km2, is Europe’s largest glacier and covers a whopping 8% of the country. Deep maze-like formations are created every year and are best explored with a guided tour.

Is it safe to visit the caves without a guided tour? Regardless of how experienced you are, we would recommend taking a guided tour. No one will stop you from entering, but the caves are constantly shifting and it is best to have a well-trained eye to ensure your safety.

Best time to visit? Ice cave season is from November through to March, when the weather has been consistently cold enough for the caves to be deemed stable.

Map location: Vatnajökull Glacier

Ice Cave in Vatnajokull, Iceland

3. Catch the kaleidoscope of colors in the Northern Lights

Once considered to be the glitter of Valkyries taking dead souls to the afterlife, 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!

Best time to go. 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.

There is no definite way to forecast the activity of this natural kaleidoscope, although there are a certain number of apps and websites such as Vedur to help with your planning.

Best way to see the Northern Lights. There are a few different options to go Northern Light hunting. Firstly you can sit still in the town that you’re staying in and hope for the best. This might not be the best option as light pollution seriously affects your chances.

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 third option is to see the Northern Lights from a boat tour such as this one from Reykjavik.

Northern Lights near Jokulsarlon, Iceland

Northern Lights near Jokulsarlon, Iceland

2. Head to the Hot Springs

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.

Blue Lagoon. Stepping into the Blue Lagoon area will make you feel like you just stepped into a fairytale. The strangely colored bright blue waters due to the large amounts of silica and sulfur lap against the jet black volcanic rocks. Just remember to make sure that your camera has enough battery you’ll need it!

Blue Lagoon, Iceland

Blue Lagoon, Iceland

1. Gaze in wonder at the many waterfalls

Iceland is known for its vistas of astounding beauty and over 10,000 of these sites include waterfalls. From Bruarfoss which is just 3 meters (9 foot) tall to Morsi Waterfall which tumbles from 240 meters (787 foot). A trip to Iceland just isn’t complete without gazing at these stunning sites.

The best waterfalls to visit in Iceland. You’re spoilt for choice, so for the best of the best read our article on the best waterfalls in Iceland. We think that SkogafossSeljalandsfoss, and Gullfoss should be top of your list.

Actually, you might recognize Skogafoss waterfall, with its bright green banks from the Walter Mitty movie. You can creep behind the watery curtain of Seljalandsfoss waterfall and discover what secrets it hides, whilst Gullfoss is a large traditional two-tiered waterfall.

Passage under Seljalandsfoss waterfall

Passage under Seljalandsfoss waterfall

Want to see more… get packing!

We know, we’ve gotten you all excited about your trip to Iceland. There is so much to see and do that we had difficulty picking out top ten favorite things. We hope we’ve inspired you, given you a sense of wanderlust and helped you plan your trip!

Thanks to: Pando Trip


Iceland travel tips and tricks to know before you go

Tags :

Category : Europe , Iceland

A bewitching Nordic nation of volcanoes, glaciers, cosmic winter light shows and endless summer twilight, Iceland is like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. The island’s mercurial weather means you’ll need to prepare for quick changes in advance. And the spectacularly dramatic landscape can bring its own challenges too. As they say, it’s good to know before you go, so read on for our top Iceland travel tips. From saving money to keeping safe and everything in between, find out all you need for unforgettable trip.

Get your plans locked in early

At just 103,000 km2, Iceland is a small but extremely popular island. Tourism has soared over the last few years with visitor numbers in recent years topping upwards of two million a year. Many choose to base themselves in Reykjavik and explore from there. This means there’s often a lot of competition for accommodation. And if you plan on staying in one of Iceland’s smaller towns, you may end up having to base your travel plans around the scant availability of small guesthouses. The same goes with activities – both the Golden Circle Tour and the Blue Lagoon now routinely book out a day in advance.

To make sure you don’t have to compromise on your plans, our Iceland travel tip is to book ahead. Aim to secure your accommodation at least six months before you go and activities one month prior. Alternatively, choose a Rough Guides tailor-made trip to Iceland and we’ll take care of everything for you.

Pack for all seasons

With a name like Iceland, it’s no surprise that winter on the island is pretty damn cold. Temperatures regularly drop to -5°C even in the city, so you’ll need to make sure that your coat and winter woollies are up to scratch. Whether it’s winter or summer, sleet and a wicked wind can strike at any time. Indeed, the locals commonly say that the island regularly experiences all four seasons in one day. But even if it’s freezing outside, Icelandic interiors are famously cosy. Stay comfortable and make sure you can strip down to a lighter layer when you head inside or if the sun decides to come out.

Here’s one of our best Iceland travel tips: before you zip up your suitcase, throw in a raincoat and a pair of flip flops. You’ll be glad of these extra additions when visiting Iceland’s unmissable but splashy waterfalls and after taking a dip in a hot spring or the Blue Lagoon.

The weather can change very quickly in Iceland

Be prepared to spend

Don’t be fooled by the fleet of low-cost flights from both mainland Europe and North America; Iceland is an expensive place. According to Statistics Iceland, prices today are 66% above the European average. The better news is that whether you’re spending large on food or crafts, Icelanders take pride in their produce. All in all, you’re likely to walk away with something of good quality.

When it comes to shopping, our Iceland travel tip is to splash out on a ‘lopapeysa’ jumper. These iconic woollen sweaters may come with a large price tag (expect to drop between 20,00 – 30,000 ISK or around £160 – £200), but they’re warm and water resistant and will last you a lifetime.

Save your money where you can

The first of our monetary Iceland travel tips is to use a prepaid travel card rather than exchanging your currency for paper Icelandic króna. Chip and pin cards are accepted pretty much everywhere on the island so you don’t have to worry about carrying cash (and spending whatever is in your wallet). Tipping at restaurants and bars isn’t required either. Service charges are usually included in the bill so there’s no need for smaller denominations of cash.

The second of our money-saving tips is to hit a budget supermarket such as Bónus or Krónan before a day of sightseeing. Lunch and snacks can be terribly overpriced at the island’s main attractions, not least at the rather swish restaurant in the visitor centre at Geysir on the Golden Circle. What’s more, the tap water in Iceland is completely safe to drink. Pack a reusable water bottle and fill it up as you go. As well as saving money, you’ll be doing your bit to keep the incredible Icelandic environment plastic-free.

Iceland travel tips: Inside an icecave in Vatnajokull

Inside an ice cave in Vatnajokull, Iceland 

Stay safe – use your common sense

With the drama of the landscape comes an element of danger. It’s important to respect the island’s natural forces no matter how tempting it is to get a closer look. When it comes to glaciers, never, ever wander or drive onto them without a guide. They are far more fragile than they appear. What’s more, hidden crevasses, glacial mud and fast-changing conditions can turn an incredible adventure into an utter disaster in the blink of an eye.

It’s not unusual here to find plunging waterfalls, cliffs and other perilous ledges without so much as rope or safety rail to keep you away from the abyss. Rather than ruin the view with ugly barriers, the authorities rely on tourists using their common sense and keeping their distance. The most important of our Iceland travel tips? Don’t risk your life for Instagram.

Similarly, stay well back from the waves on black sand beaches such as Djúpalónssandur. Here, as at many of the island’s enchanting strands, the conditions are unpredictable. Unexpected waves have been known to snatch tourists posing by the water’s edge. Once caught in the treacherous undercurrents, your chances of escape are slim.

Back in the civilisation of Reykjavik or Iceland’s smaller towns, you’ll be pleased to know that the island has an exceptionally low crime rate. However, as with anywhere, the usual rules apply. Don’t walk back to your accommodation late alone and always watch your drinks and belongings when out and about.

Book Your Trip To Iceland

Get your dream travel planned & booked by local travel experts

At E.E.TRAVEL Europe, we understand that experienced travellers want to get truly off-the-beaten-track. That’s why we’ve partnered with local experts to help you plan and book tailor-made trips that are packed with personality and stimulating adventure – at all levels of comfort. If you love planning, but find arranging the logistics exhausting, you’re in the right place.

Hotels in Reykjavik: 4 stars

Hotel Stars Discount Price per night, from Choose dates

Sand Hotel by Keahotels

★★★★

-29%

223158

View Hotel

Apótek Hotel Reykjavík by Keahotels

★★★★

-10%

304273

View Hotel

CenterHotel Midgardur

★★★★

-11%

252224

View Hotel

Eyja Guldsmeden Hotel

★★★★

-19%

274222

View Hotel

Hotel Borg by Keahotels

★★★★

-10%

333300

View Hotel

Exeter Hotel by Keahotels

★★★★

-21%

288227

View Hotel

CenterHotel Thingholt

★★★★

-11%

298265

View Hotel

Hotel Holt

★★★★

-26%

252186

View Hotel

Hilton Reykjavik Nordica

★★★★

-12%

249221

View Hotel

Fosshotel Reykjavík

★★★★

-24%

223170

View Hotel

CenterHotel Arnarhvoll

★★★★

-19%

285232

View Hotel

Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina

★★★★

-34%

266176

View Hotel

Hotel Ódinsvé

★★★★

-22%

221173

View Hotel

CenterHotel Skjaldbreid

★★★★

-30%

225158

View Hotel

Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Natura

★★★★

-15%

191162

View Hotel

Hotel Island

★★★★

-10%

157142

View Hotel

Radisson Blu 1919 Hotel, Reykjavík

★★★★

-9%

310283

View Hotel

Radisson Blu Saga Hotel, Reykjavík

★★★★

-24%

235179

View Hotel


10 Best Places to Visit in Iceland

Tags :

Category : Europe , Iceland

10. Hornstrandir Nature Reserve

Hornstrandir Nature Reserve

 

When it comes to viewing Iceland in its natural glory, no region matches the unspoiled wilderness of the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve in Westfjords. While it’s true that the its rough terrain of craggy mountains and plunging sea cliffs presents challenges, the Hornstrandir the ideal spot for nature-loving adventurers. With no shops or services within the reserve, however, hikers need to come equipped for any emergency. High on the bucket-list destinations for hiking enthusiasts is the Hornbjarg, a sky-high sea cliff located on the northernmost tip of the reserve. During the summer season, guided tours are available that let you enjoy this top-of-the-world experience in relative safety and ease.

9. Husavik

Husavik

 

A tiny fishing village nestled within a sheltered cove in northern Iceland, Husavik is quickly earning a reputation as one of the best spots in Europe for whale watching. The most common species spotted from the tour boats include minke, humpback and blue whales as well as white-beaked dolphin and harbor porpoise. With several life-size skeletons on display, the Husavik Whale Museum offers a wealth of information about whales and also chronicles the history of whaling in Iceland. The pretty wooden church of Husavikurkirkja built in 1907 is worth a quick visit as well.

8. Landmannalaugar

Landmannalaugar

 

Located within the Fjallaback Nature Reserve in Iceland’s interior highlands, Landmannalaugar is best known for its scenic hiking trails. Situated at the edge of a lava field, the flat and easily traversed region is famous for its natural hot springs as well. Popular treks include short hikes through the lava field and climbs up nearby Mt. Blahnjukur, one of the rhyolite mountains that ridges Landmannalaugar’s graveled plains. Tour companies make regular day trips to the region during the high season, and rudimentary accommodations are available for overnight stays at the site as well.

7. Thingvellir National Park

Thingvellir National Park

 

As the place where Iceland’s parliament was established in the 10th century, Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park has great historic importance to the island nation. Its location in a rift valley on the boundary of two major tectonic plates makes it a park with geological significance too. Surrounded by mountains on three sides, the valley’s cliffs, fissures, lakes and evidence of volcanic activity demonstrate the force of the shifting earth in dramatic fashion. A popular day-trip destination from Reykjavik, Iceland’s first national park features marked trails that let you take in the best sights in two or three hours.

6. Myvatn

Myvatn

 

Formed thousands of years ago by a river of hot lava, Myvatn is the best place to visit in Iceland for bird watching. More than 100 species frequent this lake to feast on the midges that give Myvatn its name. Shaped by volcanic eruptions spouting up through the water, the so-called pseudo-craters that dominate the landscape attract visitors as well. The best place to view the craters is on the lake’s south shore near the rural community of Skutustadir. A forest of pillars, caves and rock formations created as the water drained away are on display at Dimmuborgir, the lava fields east of Myvatn.

5. Reykjavik 

Reykjavik

 

Spread out over the Seltjarnarnes peninsula in southwest Iceland, Reykjavik covers a surprisingly large area for a capital with a population of around 120,000. Most visits begin at the visitor’s center located near picturesque Lake Tjornin on the city’s west side. Filled with exhibits recounting Iceland’s Viking heritage, the National and Saga museums are must-see attractions. For a panoramic view of the capital, ride the lift to the observation deck of the modernistic Hallgrimskirkja church east of the lake. With its appealing array of shops, bars and restaurants, the central thoroughfare of Laugavegur is worth exploring too.

4. Jokulsarlon

Jokulsarlon

 

Few travel experiences in Iceland are more memorable than the sight and sound of an iceberg breaking off a glacier and crashing into the sea. The best place to witness this display of nature’s power is at the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. Located in southeast Iceland, this iceberg-dotted lake was formed by the melting ice of the Breidamerkurjokull glacier, which is a major attraction in its own right. While you can view the lake with its slow-moving floating icebergs from the island’s Ring Road, nothing compares to seeing them up close from the deck of a tour boat.

3. Vatnajokull National Park

Vatnajokull National Park

 

Home to the largest glacier in Europe, the Vatnajokull National Park is so vast that it encompasses around 14 percent of the country. Divided into four separately managed territories, the park’s most frequently visited section is the southern territory of Skaftafell where trails lead you past blue-tinted glacial tongues and waterfalls. Hardy adventures can climb the Vatnajokull glacier or explore the long row of volcanic craters known as the Lakagigar. The park has a wealth of easily accessible features too, including the powerful Dettifoss, a waterfall famous for the sheer volume of water that cascades over its rim.

2. Golden Circle Route

Golden Circle Route

 

The region immediately east of Reykjavik contains an intriguing sampling of Iceland’s unique attractions, including historic sites, quaint villages, geysers and waterfalls. Multiple tour companies offer day-long excursions through the area along the roads and highways that are known collectively as the Golden Circle Route. The most popular tours feature stops at Gullfoss, where the mammoth “Golden Falls” tumble through the Hvita river canyon, and the Geysir hot springs, the place where the word “geyser” got its name. Marking the spot where the nation of Iceland was founded in 930, ancient Þingvellir is typically included in the tour as well.

 

1. Blue Lagoon

#1 of Best Places To Visit In Iceland

Located on the Reykjanes peninsula less than an hour’s drive from Reykjavik, the Blue Lagoon is Iceland’s most popular tourist destination. This manmade lake is fed by superheated seawater vented from a nearby lava flow. The geothermal waters contain minerals like silica believed to have health benefits, but it’s the chance to relax in a steaming lagoon surrounded by black lava rocks that most attracts visitors. In addition to a restaurant that overlooks the lagoon, a 35-room resort features an array of pampering amenities, including spa treatments, saunas, steam baths and a fully equipped fitness room.


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