7 of the best experiences you’d be crazy to miss in Iceland
Iceland is a unique place, unlike anywhere else in the world. A place where nature reigns supreme, rugged fjords and imposing volcanoes, majestic glaciers, gushing waterfalls, bubbling hot springs, and erupting geysers and, of course, the spectacle of Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights, await those who visit Iceland.
The Golden Circle is by far the most popular route in Iceland. This 300km loop from the capital Reykjavik takes you into some of the most stunning landscapes and intense natural features. The highlights of the Golden Circle route include Thingvellir (Þingvellir) National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, huge geysers including the Great Geysir and Strokkur Geysir and the impressive Gullfoss waterfall but there are some many other attractions to see in Iceland.
Here’s 7 amazing experiences and things to do in Iceland that you simply cannot miss
Swim at the Blue Lagoon
The steaming bright turquoise waters of the Blue Lagoon in Grindavik are so beautiful they almost look surreal. Spending a day soaking in the warm waters of this geothermal spa surrounded by black volcanic boulders and lava fields is one of the very best experiences you can have in Iceland.
The pool is naturally heated and there are also spa and skin treatments available including algae face masks, in-water massages and a volcanic rock scrub. There is a selection of dining options including a swim up bar that serves champagne and healthy smoothies.
Witness the Northern Lights
The world’s (maybe even the Universe’s) oldest light show is a surreal and beautiful sight and a highlight of a visit to Iceland. The Aurora Borealis can be seen from all around the island from September to April and is a common occurrence, the longer you stay in Iceland, the better your odds are for seeing the Aurora Borealis, but a week’s trip should be enough time to witness this spectacular sight for yourself.
All you need to witness such a marvellous spectacle is a clear night and Iceland’s unspoilt countryside. The Northern Lights can even be seen even from illuminated Reykjavik, just not as intensely. The further north you go the better the show.
Explore Langjokull Glacier
The enormous Langjokull Glacier (‘The Long Glacier’) is Iceland’s second largest glacier and an experience not to be missed. As you explore the 50km long Langjokull Glacier you will see infinite ice layers, crevasses, tunnels, and other features of this other worldly icy paradise. Langjokull is a popular place for jeep and snowmobile trips as well as skiing and hiking, but you should never travel alone on Langjokull, as there are many cracks in the glacier. It’s better to take a guided tour for your glacier hike, where you’ll lay eyes on various wonders including blue ice, illuminated chambers illuminated in gentle blue and violet hues and even an inner chapel where you can get married!
Snorkel between tectonic plates at Thingvellir
Don’t miss the unique opportunity to snorkel at the Silfra in Thingvellir National Park, it’s the only place in the world where you can swim between two tectonic plates in a crack where the North American and Eurasian continents drift apart about 2 cm per year. The waters of such a unique crevice are crystal clear, allowing you to see over 100 meters in distance and you can even drink from the Silfra’s pristine waters. The temperature of the water is stable and never goes over 4°C, or below 2°C, but you’ll be well equipped with appropriate gear during your guided tour.
See the iconic Geysers erupt
One of the most famous sights in Iceland’s Golden Circle are the dramatic sprouts of the geysers. Iceland’s two most iconic geysers, the Great Geysir and Strokkur, are good, old neighbours, and while the former gets a bit lazy at times, the latter is still regularly active and erupts about every 5 to 8 minutes. Strokkur’s jets shoot out up to an incredible 20 meters. The Great Geysir is the Icelandic word for “geyser”, which has come to symbolize the phenomenon in other languages. It rarely sprouts nowadays, so you may be waiting quite a long time but when it does the streaming water reaches an incredible 80-meter high!
Go Whale Watching
Whale watching is another top attraction in Iceland. Whales migrate, along with other marine life, to the north and the best time for seeing these magnificent creatures is from April to September. You can see Orcas, Blue Whales, Humpbacks and other whale species playfully enjoying their natural environment accompanied by dolphins, seals, gulls and other sea birds too. Many tours leave from Reykjavik, and you can also set off on a whale watching adventure from some of the northern towns of Iceland too.
See Gullfoss Waterfall
Gullfoss is part of the popular Golden Circle route and is Iceland’s most popular waterfall, often ranked among the top 10 waterfalls on earth. The name of the waterfall actually means ’Golden Falls’ because it really does appear to be a golden colour on a sunny day. This happens because the glacier waters, which power Gullfoss, carve off some of the earth along the flow and so the golden waters of the waterfall take on brownish colour. The light water mist that bathes the surrounding green area adds another level of magic to the experience.
Iceland has so much more to offer, this is just a small taste of the amazing sights and unique experiences that make Iceland a magical destination.
Have you been to Iceland? What was your highlight?