Iceland is renowned for its enchanting natural beauty, historic castles, peaceful lakes, and scrumptious meals. However, these are not the only things offered by this country; there is a plethora of places to discover, and many adventures to pursue. So we took the initiative to compile the top 10 things you can do, if you ever plan to visit this magical place.
10. Go Whale Watching
If you’re fascinated by whales, then look no further. Iceland has the honour to be amongst the top spot for whale watching. Kieko from Free Willy, the Killer Whale celebrity, was ensnared in Reyðarfjörður Fjord, Iceland. There are approximately eleven other species that are commonly seen throughout the year.
Here are three best places for you to check out, if you want to go on a whale watching tour.
This is the best location if you want to spot a whale in Iceland. This little town consists of only 182 residents, and is enclosed by green hills. If you decide to go there, then visiting the Whale Museum is a must.
This is the longest Fjord in all of Iceland.
The capital of Iceland is full of friendly people, and the kind attitude they emanate towards the tourists is extremely heartwarming.
Whales can be spotted at any time of the year, but the best time to visit is in summer, from June till September, as the warm sea has ample fish and krill. The peak time for tourist is between June and August, so you have to make advance bookings to avoid any inconvenience when you reach your destination.
9. Visit Vestrahorn Mountain
Allow us to paint a scenario in your head, you relaxing on the shore of a mild lagoon as the fresh clean water gently laps your toes, a black sand beach is stretched out in front of you, and the most picturesque view in Iceland is right before your very eyes. Vestrahorn is a 454m high mountain, and it should be on your bucket list, believe us you wouldn’t want to miss out on this opportunity.
The best thing about this location is there are absolutely no crowds; you can enjoy the serene environment alone, and capture it on your camera without the tourists ruining your photo. However, if taking photos is not what you’re interested in, then you can relax on the very unique black sand beach, you can also pet some adorable ponies and if it’s your lucky day, you might spot some seals.
Vestrahorn is open for tourists all year round, however, the winters are extremely cold so your trip might become a little troublesome. Nevertheless, you’ll get to see the glorious snowy peaks and their reflections in the crystal clear water, a breathtaking view indeed.
8. Check out some Geysers
Geysers are an extremely rare natural phenomenon, and approximately a 1000 of them are present in the entire word. Needless to say, Iceland is full of them.
When water fuses with a heated magma, it gives birth to a natural spring, as it puts pressure on the water to create bubbles, which makes it move upward until it blasts up in the air with tremendous speed, and often great height. The word geyser also originated from Icelandic work ‘geysa’, meaning ‘gush’.
If your drive 90 minutes away from the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik, you will discover an ancient geyser situated in Haukadalur valley. However, these days it is labeled as dormant, but this Great Geysir was the first European Geysir that was discovered. When it’s active, it springs boiling hot water 70 meters in the air.
There is also a restless Strokkur Geysir, located near the Great Geysir, which springs up constantly every few minutes. However, its eruption is measured to be just 20 meters; still you will be taken aback when it erupts time and time again.
7. Visit Hallgrimskirkja in Reykjavík
In 1937, Guðjón Samúelsson designed a white concrete church which is visible from anywhere in the capital. The design of the church is inspired from the volcanic basalt pillars, which is spread across the Iceland’s countryside.
The statue of Leifur Eiríksson, is present on the top of the hill, and he is facing away from the church which looks as if he is standing at guard. The views are spectacular in this area, but if you opt for a lift which is right beside the main entrance of the church, you will be transported to a viewing platform, where you’ll witness the breathtaking panoramic views of the capital.
You can always join in the evening tour, in which you can sight see Reykjavik and the nearby areas to explore the rich history and folklore of the locals.
You can visit from mid-June to mid-August, and you’ll discover numerous rosters of activities in the church like organ recitals on the 5000-pipe organ, choir concerts and Sunday services. Make sure that you gather information about the activities before hand, because they can even charge you for some of them.
6. Explore the Incredible Views of Dyrhólaey
This theatrical coastline provides a magnificent sense of the vicious power of nature. You can stand on the 120 meter coastline, and observe the sea surging underneath you with raging waves, and breathe in the entire view. If you are feeling a bit adventurous, you can walk on the archway and perch up at what appears to be the edge of the world.
The views are simply unbelievable; you can also witness Iceland’s fourth largest ice cap, Mýrdalsjökull glacier, mesmerizing rock formations, and never-ending black sand coastline.
Since this area is a bird sanctuary mainly for arctic terns and puffins, they don’t allow visitors during May and June, which is the nesting season. However, the exact dates may change each year.
5. Take a trip to Landmannalaugar
It is a common fact that Iceland harbors an abundance of striking landscapes, clean lakes, vibrant mountains, soothing hot springs and winding lava trails, but is it possible to discover all these amazing things in just a single area?
You might be surprised, because the answer is yes. There is a place called Landmannalaugar, that has uniquely coloured mountains, and mineral-filled lavas known as Rhyolite, and when it cools down that’s when the magic happens, it manifest a splash of rainbow colours, unbelievable, right?
It also has a great hiking place, Laugavegurinn, in which you’ll experience magical ice caves, dark volcanic deserts and vivid green valleys. The hike is pretty challenging and is 55 km long; you can witness an abundance of hot springs and a plethora of colorful mountainous peaks. You can book an entire four day tour, and truly discover the beauty that lies within. Make sure that you are fully prepared as the hike can be a bit tough.
You can only visit Landmannalaugar from June to September, because the roads are closed for the rest of the months.
4. Relax in some Hot Springs
Iceland is blessed with a significant number of geothermal waters to fulfill the need of everybody. Hot Springs are spread across the entire country, from secluded places to the busiest places, you just pick whichever place you want to enjoy in, and the rest is history.
Blue Lagoon is no less than a fairytale due to its peculiar bright blue waters. The high amount of sulfur and silica water splashing on the dark black volcanic rocks is a sight to see. The only downside of it is that it’s a bit expensive. You can also explore other options like a distant but peaceful Myvatn Nature Baths, free but busy Landmannalaugar , or the ancient man-made hot spring known as Seljavallalaug.
3. See the Ice Caves in the Vatnajökull Glacier
Deep within the Vatnajökull Glacier, there is a varying vibrant ice wonderland. This place is waiting to be explored by all nature enthusiasts. It is the Europe’s biggest glacier and is 8100 km long, and the best part? It’s spread across 8% area of the entire country! Each year maze-like formations are manifested, and it is advised to visit this place along with a guided tour. Why you might ask? Even though, they will still allow you to enter the cave without a guided tour, but since the caves are frequently shifting, it is best to have a trained professional with you at all times.
The best months are from November till March; this is the time when they caves are considered as stable.
2. Stare in awe at Northern Lights
These enchanting northern lights still remain to be one of the wonders the world has ever seen, and in ancient times they were thought of as glitter of Valkyries transporting dead souls towards the afterlife. However, these lights are created with the help of solar particles which enter inside the earth’s magnetic field. With that said, these lights are not as easy to spot, you need a substantial plan, and of course a good amount of luck. These Northern Lights can be witnessed in 8 out of 12 months, and since Iceland has a minor cloud cover, the chances of them being visible are slightly more than other countries.
There are a few options to witness this marvelous phenomenon, you can sit in the town and wait for your luck to come through. However, this is not the best choice due to light pollution. You can move towards an isolated spot, alone or with a guided tour. You can find many tours from Reykjavik and Akureyri. Last, but not the least you can go on a boat tour to capture these amazing lights.
You can see the Northern lights from October till April, but the highest probability to witness them are in the months of December, January and February. All you need is utter darkness, with absolutely no moon light, being in the right time and place, and little or no cloud cover.
Iceland is home to numerous waterfalls that are spread across more than 10,000 sites. Smallest to tallest you’ll find it all. The shortest waterfall which is only 4 meters tall is Bruarfoss, and 240 meters long, the tallest one is Morsi Waterfall. It is safe to say that if you come to Iceland and miss at some these amazing sites, than your trip definitely remains incomplete.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but we believe that Seljalandsfoss, Skogafoss and Gullfoss are the best ones out there. Skogafoss waterfall has also made a cameo in the Secret Life of Walter Mitty movie. You can also peer behind the majestic Seljalandsfoss waterfall and uncover the secrets it holds, and Gullfoss is an extremely huge conventional two-tiered waterfall.