Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on all sides, this small island, from which the Arctic Circle is very close, attracts thousands of tourists from all over the world every year. And this is no surprise: nature like Iceland is hard to find elsewhere.
The main treasures are the city of Reykjavik and numerous amazing natural wonders, including geysers, volcanoes, giant rocks and ice fields.
There are so many exceptional places and all kinds of landscapes that it is not realistic to accommodate them all in one trip. And it’s not real to tell or write about them all in one article. However, you can make an opinion about Iceland.
Above all, from the advice for travelers in Iceland, we recommend thinking about renting a car. Many of the most colorful places are far away from the settlements, and without a car it is difficult to get there.
By the way, tourists from Russia and CIS countries need to carry an international driver’s license. You simply will not get a car at a rental office without it.
However, if you are categorically against driving, there is a way out: buying excursions from local travel agencies.
Land of contradictions
Amazingly, such different natural phenomena as glaciers and geysers coexist here. Volcanoes also come alive once in a while. The landscape of a country can change right before your eyes. And yet, despite the activity of volcanoes and glaciers, there are places in Iceland where nature has remained unchanged for centuries.
Due to its remoteness from the rest of Europe, the locals were able to preserve their language and culture. Here Christianity and paganism are amazingly intertwined: Icelanders still believe in the reality of elves and trolls. At the same time, Iceland leads the world in terms of education, and its residents buy books more actively than other Europeans.
The warm current of the Gulf Stream makes Iceland’s climate warmer than in other parts of this latitude. But you can’t see the heat here either: in summer the temperature doesn’t rise above 11-12 degrees, it often rains; in winter the thermometer pole keeps around -1 degree, and the weather is mostly windy. In mountainous areas the temperature reaches -10.
Another disadvantage of the local climate is that the weather can change quickly in one day. Therefore, you should prepare for such changes in advance.
The climate may vary slightly in different parts of the island. The south of Iceland is warmer and warmer than the north. In the center of the island, the weather is driest. There are often snowfalls in the north.
Also in Iceland, the northern lights in winter and white nights in summer are typical of these places.
The northern lights
It is a spectacular natural wonder that can be seen in Iceland every year. The spectacular light show is best seen in remote places, where you can also admire the snow-capped peaks and the clearest lakes. The most famous place is Thingvellir National Park, where special campsites have been set up to accommodate groups of tourists.
Underground heat. Geysers
The visiting card of the island is considered to be hot springs – geysers. The word “geyser” itself is Icelandic and comes from the verb “geysa” – to spill. Most of Iceland’s hot springs are located in the Haukadalur Valley. In total there are about 7000 of them on the island, each of them erupts with different periodicity. There are geysers that shoot water once every few years, and there are those that show their power every hour. Usually tourists are brought to the valley to an eruption of some large spring. This spectacle leaves an unforgettable impression: the water begins to boil, in the depths you hear a growing rumble, and then a huge column of boiling water and the steam soars upwards. It is forbidden to approach the springs, as the water temperature here reaches two hundred degrees Celsius and burns are guaranteed.
One of these geysers in the valley is the Strokkur geyser, which is one of the favorite stops for travelers in Iceland. The sight of boiling water streams coming out of the ground with thunderlike noise is truly breathtaking.
Icelanders use geysers not only to attract tourists. Underground heat heats the homes of residents, which saves a lot on gas and oil products. And even tropical plants feel good in numerous greenhouses and parks. Due to volcanic activity, underground hot springs and thermal pools can be found all over the country.
However, there are also springs where the water is not so hot. Such places have geothermal spas, where you can relax in a warm bath and take various healing procedures.
One of these “warm spots” is the Blue Lagoon near Reykjavik. It is a unique lake with water painted blue. It is most often visited in winter after a trip through the rocks to warm up in the waters of the lake.
The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal resort and one of the main attractions in Iceland. The natural pale blue water pool is fed by underground hot springs and offers unique bathing and relaxation. The temperature of the crystal clear, mineral-rich water is kept at 40 degrees Celsius all year round. In addition to bathing in the lagoon, visitors can explore the charming surroundings and visit the fishermen’s town of Grindavik.
Word of glacier
Iceland – Iceland is an icy country.
Fans of outdoor activities can also find something to enjoy here. Icelandic glaciers attract thousands of extreme people from all over the world every year. Ski slopes are covered with snow throughout the winter and you can ski here even at night thanks to the excellent lighting. The most famous ski resort in Iceland, Blafjoll, is equipped with eleven ski lifts. Skiing starts in February and ends in July.
Mountaineers will surely like the Svinafellsjokull glacier in southern Iceland. It once caught the attention of the producers of one of the films about agent 007 “007: Die Another Day”. The glacier has a very diverse terrain, sometimes with large differences in altitude. Both beginners and professionals can climb here. Climbing to the top takes about 4 hours. If it is too fast and boring for you, there is another glacier – Solheimajökull in the west of the island. It takes much longer to climb up here – around 10-12 hours.
At the foot of Vatnajokull, Europe’s largest glacier, is the beautiful Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. Here you can watch huge blocks of ice break away from the glacier and head out into the open sea. Tourists are invited to walk around the bay on an amphibian boat. Lovers of photography can capture how sunlight passes through the ice thickness, coloring it in different, sometimes quite fantastic colors.
What else can’t be missed in Iceland? Below is a small list, against each item you must check the box. And preferably on your first trip.
The Hallgrimskirkja church
Located in the heart of Reykjavik Hallgrimskirkja, a Lutheran church with striking architecture. The building was built in 1940 and its design is inspired by the famous Svartifoss or Black Falls. The top of the church offers a beautiful panoramic view of the surrounding area. The place is definitely worth exploring while walking around the city.
Whale watching is a very common tourism destination throughout Iceland. You will not have a problem finding one of the many travel agencies that offer such services. During the summer season, the chances to see amazing sea creatures are the highest. Ferries and ships are crowded with people who are eager to meet sea giants.
Myvatn, “mosquito lake”
Lake Mivatne, formed as a result of a lava eruption a thousand years ago, is located near the town of Akureyri. The area boasts impressive natural scenery and is famous for its vegetation, the opportunity to see unique birds, volcanic craters and waterfalls.
Cape Hornbjarg is the most remote place in northern Iceland and provides an amazing experience of being “on the edge of the world”. The steep rocks and majestic ridges are interspersed with beautiful plains with lush green meadows – the height difference in the region is more than 500 meters. Visitors can explore the area by boat or take one of the hiking trails, enjoying the seclusion and beauty of nature.
Skaftafell Ice Park is a protected area located in the southern part of the country. It is known for its beautiful glaciers and magnificent underground ice caves, where dazzling blue light penetrates. The place will be particularly interesting for adventurers, nature lovers and photographers.
Gullfoss waterfall or Golden Falls
The majestic Güdlfoss waterfall is part of the Hvita River, which winds around different canyons and drops sharply, creating a powerful stream. The waterfall consists of three terraces with a total height of 32 meters. Being one of the most amazing waterfalls, Güdlfoss is part of the famous Icelandic journey “Golden Crown”.
Of course, this list of attractions, landmarks and events is far from complete. One thing is certain: in Iceland you can find rest for every taste, and any traveler will take away from here a lot of impressions and wonderful pictures.
Note: a good offer for flying to Iceland and getting to know this amazing country is here: To Iceland from Moscow in August — October 2020 from 206€.