Surreal nature, Nordic culture and geological diversity define Iceland, a remote island nation at the confluence of the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans. From striking waterfalls to gushing geysers, stunning mountains to picture-perfect beaches, and the other-worldly Aurora Borealis to the Midnight Sun – find out all that this magical country has to offer to its visitors.
All the major towns and villages in Iceland lie on the Ring Road (or Route 1), a 1300 kilometer road that runs around the island. Capital Reykjavik is the entry point and is dotted with colourful buildings, excellent museums, and has a lively art and music scene. The Old Town (also known as Old Reykjavik), which houses a few historic buildings, is the focal point of the city and a great place to learn about Iceland’s history. The Old Harbour, on the other hand, has a few museums and the famed Harpa concert hall. Hallgrimskirkja – located in the heart of Reykjavik, is an enormous seventy-four meter high church and its most notable landmark. The capital makes a great base for exploring the widely renowned geothermal spa – Blue Lagoon. It is a spa lover’s delight and one of the most popular attractions in Iceland. Other than that, from Reykjavik, you can go on a scenic sightseeing route called the Golden Circle. Included in almost every itinerary of Iceland, this route covers three important stops – Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss waterfall and Geysir Geothermal Area. With Viking heritage, UNESCO world heritage listed Thingvellir National Park is an important historical site, Iceland’s first national park, and features some great scenery. The Geysir Geothermal Area has two notable geysers – Geysir and Strokkur. While Geysir is mostly inactive these days, Strokkur continues to erupt on a regular basis. The last stop on the Golden Circle is the Gullfoss Waterfall – a dramatic thirty-two meter tall waterfall, that is not only the most beautiful but also the most popular in the country. Snæfellsnes Peninsula is another destination that can be reached from Reykjavik. Home to dazzling fjords, volcanos and golden beaches, Snæfellsnes offers a fascinating landscape. The terrain of the peninsula is dominated by the ice-capped Snæfellsjokull volcano, which was immortalized by Jules Verne in his widely popular classic novel – Journey to the Centre of the Earth.
Iceland is home to numerous breathtaking waterfalls and apart from Gullfoss, Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss are some of the most notable ones. Both of them are located around thirty kilometers apart on the Ring Road, on the way from Reykjavik to Vik. A picturesque Icelandic village, Vik is one of the best places in the country to witness the glorious northern lights. It is also a great base for exploring the black-sand Reyniskirkja beach, Solheimasandur Plane Wreck and the Dyrholaey plateau which featured in the popular TV series Game of Thrones.
To witness some of the best natural beauty in Iceland, visit Vatnajokull National Park – a huge park that covers almost fourteen percent of the country’s total area and is home to two of Iceland’s most popular destinations – Jokulsarlon and Skaftafell. While Jokulsarlon is a glacier lagoon and known for its iceberg dotted blue waters, Skaftafell is a wilderness area made up of cascading waterfalls, snaking rivers and birch forests. The glacier lagoon of Jokulsarlon looks like an ancient ice-age lagoon, but is actually just a little older than 80 years.
Iceland’s premier whale-watching destination Husavik is located in the remote north of the country. From Husavik, you can discover various geothermal baths or go on a road trip to the seaside fishing village of Dalvik, best known for its ferry to Iceland’s Arctic Circle island, Grímsey.
One thing we all can agree on is that Iceland is a nature paradise and offers some of the world’s most surreal landscapes. With so many natural attractions and outdoor activities, this island nation is a destination worthy to be added to the top of your travel bucket-list.
Vatnajokull National Park covers almost 14 percent of Iceland’s total area.