Amita's Guide to Iceland
A dream destination for adventurers and wanderlusters, Iceland is the home of astounding landscapes and natural wonders. Read on to learn about top attractions guaranteed to amaze you...
The magnificent Blue Lagoon, also known as Geothermal Spa, is undoubtedly one of the most alluring attractions in Iceland. The lagoon is near Keflavic International Airport and usually the first or the last place travelers visit in Iceland.
This celebrated hot spring is a mix of milky seawater and fresh water, rich in minerals, algae and silica. The combination is certain to make your skin softer than ever and provide an experience like none other. The mission of the lagoon is to promote healing power, wellness and beauty to it's visitors.
The City of Reykjavik
On the coast of Iceland sits the country's capital and largest city, Reykjavik. The historic city is home to most of Iceland's inhabitants, offering tours of the Old Harbor and streets lined with colorful buildings, Icelandic stores and eateries.
Rich in maritime history, the port from where the popular whale watching tours depart is near the city center. Fans of old architecture can find Reykjavik’s oldest houses in the central Lækjargata Street. The commercial area with stores and eateries is there, as well. Some other main shopping streets in the city are Bankastræti, Austurstræti and Laugavegur. Downtown Reykjavik can be explored on foot or by bike.
Sculptures can be spotted all over the city. Sólfarið, or Sun Voyager, is one of the most unusual and popular ones. It symbolizes a dream boat that most people identify as a Viking ship. You can find this steel piece of art on the waterfront, with the view of Mount Esja on the other side of the bay. Moments here are most beautiful at sunrise or sunset. This spot is also among the best places in Reykjavik for experiencing the midnight sun in summer.
Hallgrimskirkja is the most striking landmark of the Icelandic capital. The imposing Lutheran church boasts a fascinating design and an enormous organ with over 5000 pipes. Visitors can take an elevator to the observation platform of the 75-meter high tower and enjoy the views. Next to the Hallgrimskirkja is a monument that honors the first European who landed in America around 1000 A.D.
The Golden Circle is Iceland's most popular route. It gets you to several great attractions. The top attractions of this popular route are no more than 2 hours distance from Reykjavik. Thus, you can see the Golden Circle’s key points of interest in a day.
Thingvellir (Þingvellir) National Park, encircled by mountains, is the largest attraction of the golden circle. It is an area of immense natural beauty, crisscrossed with hiking trails and spectacular views. The park boasts something no other place above sea level in the world has - the rift between two tectonic plates.
Within the park is Thingvallavatn (Þingvallavatn), Iceland's largest natural lake. Gjabakkahellir, a lava tube, is also among Thingvellir's top attractions. The lava tube is open at its both ends, boasting stalactites, shelves and other formations.
Silfra fissure is a must-do if you are an adventurer. It's a crack between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. While diving in its crystal-clear water, you can see 100 meters in distance, even more. If you dive deeply enough, you can place one hand on the Eurasian and the other on the North American tectonic plate.
Another natural phenomenon within the Golden Circle is a geothermal area in the Haukadalur valley named Geysir Hot Springs. There are several hot springs next to one another on the site. Of these geysers, you will find Strokkur amazing the most. Its water jets, sent up every 10 to 15 minutes, reach heights of up to 20 meters.
This top attraction of the Golden Circle derives its name from one specific geyser. This one is pretty lazy these days and its name (Geysir) is the Icelandic term that became to describe these natural phenomena. In all probability, this particular geyser won’t be active when you arrive. But if you are extremely lucky, you will find its jets reaching fantastic height of 80 meters!
With the already mentioned Golden Circle's sites, Thingvellir (Þingvellir) National Park and Geysir Hot Springs, Gullfoss completes the list of Iceland's top attractions. Considered among top 10 waterfalls in the world, Gullfoss is also known as Golden Falls. If you visit the falls on a sunny day, you will immediately realize why.
Impressive Skogafoss Waterfall is 60 meters high, powered by Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull glaciers. It tumbles down from a cliff producing dense water mist at its base. In the past, Icelandic coastline bordered the waterfall's cliffs. Today, the shore is around 5 km to the south away and you can enjoy great views from the top of the cliff. For the most rewarding experience, arrive here on a sunny day. Then, you can enjoy the sight of a rainbow in front of the waterfall.
370 stairs link the base of the Skogafoss Waterfall to its top. Once you climb, you are at the beginning of the Fimmvörðuháls pass, a popular hiking route.
Skogar Folk Museum
The Skogar Folk Museum is one of Iceland's finest folk museums, set in a pleasant environment. The museum safeguards the island's heritage from the Viking times onward. It displays tools, handmade items and manuscripts among other exhibits. You can take a look into turf dwellings and imagine how people lived in them in the past. The adjacent Museum of Transport elaborates the development of transport in Iceland in the last 2 centuries.
The glacier whose name is hard to pronounce is the setting for a great glacier walk. It is an extension of the Mýrdalsjökull glacier, featuring sinkholes, ice ridges and tunnels. Also, it offers a view of the ice-capped volcano Katla. A Sólheimajökull glacier hike reveals a varied landscape and diverse ice formations. Along the way, you may even discover an ice cave. Traces of past volcano eruptions, such as ash and pumice, are present, too.
Dyrhólaey is a promontory near the village of Vik. It is 120 meters high above sea level, resembling an arch. You will find Dyrhólaey near a lighthouse atop the cliff. In the neighborhood, you can see several rock formations up to 60 meters tall jutting from the sea.
Besides interesting rock formations, you may see many bird species that inhabit the area. Arctic terns and puffins are some of those you may spot. When planning your trip to Dyrhólaey, note that access can be somewhat limited during the nesting season in spring and summer.
Reynisfjara is another habitat abundant with birdlife. Besides puffins, fulmars and guillemots also inhabit the area. But, it is the endless beauty of the black pebble beach that leaves most visitors with mouths widely open. Basalt columns, lava formations and caves line famous Black Sand Beach. Small wonder that Reynisfjara belongs to a circle of the top 10 non-tropical beaches in the world.
Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, northeast from Vik, is a charming hidden gem in blessed solitude. If coming to visit this marvelous place, don't expect to see a deep canyon. But, what it lacks in the depth makes up with a palette of vivid colors and fascinating shapes of its serpentines. Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon is no more than 100 meters deep and 2 km long. Furthermore, the river flowing through the canyon is often low. If so, visitors can descend into the canyon and take a walk along the riverbed.