Top things to see and do in Iceland
Iceland is a land of elves, volcanoes, glaciers and geothermal activity rumbling below the surface. It’s a place of harsh and lonely landscapes that somehow manage to be beautiful and breathtaking. It’s a place where the weather can change in a heartbeat but whether you have sun or snow, this little country will blow you away.
Iceland is becoming more and more popular with tourists thanks to the never-ending list of things to do. In 2014 there were 1.3 million visitors and tourism has grown by 30% every year for the past four years. Whether you want to climb a volcano or relax in a natural spa, here are some of the best things to do in Iceland.
Relax in the Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon is the most popular geothermal spa in Iceland because, quite simply, it’s stunning. The enormous, natural pool of milky blue water has an average temperature of 38ºC and is surrounded by dramatic mountains and the stark Icelandic landscape. Steam billows from the warm water as you soak away your troubles and relax in true Icelandic style.
Road trip around the Golden Circle
The Golden Circle is a popular driving route that allows you to see three of the country’s most popular tourist attractions; Thingvellier National Park, Geysir and Gullfoss.
On this route you can stop at Strokkur Geyser, an enormous geyser that erupts every few minutes and shoots steaming water jets 30 meters into the sky. You will see Gullfoss Waterfall, a waterfall that will both terrify and mesmerise you with it’s force. Be sure to stop at Kerid Crater, a 55 meter high volcanic crater with stunning views from the top.
Snorkel between tectonic plates
You can snorkel or scuba dive at Silfra dive site in Thingvellir National Park, one of the only spots in the world where you can swim between tectonic plates. The true appeal for this dive site is the incredible visibility of up to 120 meters underwater! You will see an incredible landscape formed from lava rock as well as lots of algae and seaweed. Yes, it’s very, very cold but you’re well equipped with a dry suit and plenty of warm padding.
Hike across a glacier
In Iceland you have the unique opportunity to hike across the largest glacier in Europe, Vatnajokull Glacier. It’s best to do this with a tour company as you can hire crampons and they’ll show the best and safest route. Hiking up the dazzling, icy mass is an incredible experience and the views across the blue white ice are not to be missed.
Walk behind Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
There are lots of waterfalls in Iceland but one of the most impressive is Seljalandsfoss. Admire the waterfall from a distance but then get up close and you’ll see you can walk behind it. Feel the refreshing spray as the powerful water thunders down the mountain with a roar.
If you walk 10 minutes to the left of Seljalandsfoss Waterfall you’ll come across a gap in the rocks and you’ll find Gljúfrabúi Waterfall, otherwise known as ‘Hidden Waterfall’. This is a little gem not to be missed!
Visit Vik for the black sand beaches
We often assume that white sandy beaches are the best but you’ll soon change your mind when you see the glistening black sands at Vik. The beaches are incredibly dramatic, particularly with the craggy mountains surrounding the shore. If you visit in the winter, Vik has the added beauty of icebergs and snow on the beach.
Take a boat ride around Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
Speed around the silky smooth surface of Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon as you dodge enormous glaciers and admire their beauty. Keep your eyes peeled for playful seals, as there are plenty in the lagoon’s waters.