Iceland is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever visited. After spending time in Greece, China, Hawaii, and various other locations in Europe, I can honestly say my mind takes me back to the beauty of the Nordic island that is Iceland.
It has a landscape full of breathtaking views, wonderful eats, winding and larger than life landscape, and a strong geothermal presence that includes the majority of the energy consumed in its capital city of Reykjavik. That said, I wanted to create a list of the top four must-see places when you are personally taking the time out to visit Iceland (and you should) to give you a head start.
The Viking history, volcanoes, hot springs, and geysers are just some of the natural wonders that Iceland has to offer. What better way to spread the word than to share with you some of the beauties that wait to be uncovered when visiting Iceland.
1) Húsavik for whale watching
If you take a trip up to the north coast and into Skjálfandi Bay while visiting Iceland (by the way, you are strikingly close to the Article Circle at this point), you can hop aboard one of many old vessels and throw on a life vest to do some whale watching. In addition, you can visit Reykjavík for a similar experience. Regardless of which city you choose to go whale-watching from, you will have a three hour ride and have the opportunity to see some wonderful sites from the sea.
Note two things here: first, whale-watching is only available from May to September, so make sure you plan accordingly. Last, take note to not have a gentle stomach: whales are hunted for food in Iceland, so if you are sensitive to animal well-being, this may NOT be your most favorite whale-watching excursion to go on.
2) Volcanoes and ice cave tours
If you are into getting some fresh air, moving your legs, and have an adventurous side, may I suggest to do some hiking both through climbing volcanoes and also through hiking on glaciers. You can book some incredible ice cave tours in Iceland that will take you into the depths of the glaciers and the volcanoes and give you a perspective view of these wonders that you have never seen before (and that you may never have the chance to see again).
If you hike a glacier, be advised that a helmet, harness, axe, and spikes are generally required as you will be climbing a large sheet of ice such as Mýrdalsjökull glacier. The sites are spectacular, but they do require some advanced hiking capabilities to conquer them
If you decide to climb a volcano, such as the Eyjafjallajökull (which is still active and erupted as recently as 2010), get ready to see some views that will take your breath away. If you hike up to Hverfjall crater, you can see a wonderful view of Lake Myvatn that you will never forget. Be prepared for wonder, but also take a sense of caution in order to conquer these sites.
3) Blue Lagoon and the geothermal hot springs
This must-see location in Iceland is probably the most well-known place to visit on the entire list. The Blue Lagoon is a grand complex that includes full day admissions with a restaurant, bar, locker rooms and facilities, and many other luxuries that make the entire experience a full day’s worth of basking. However, the Blue Lagoon is not the only geothermal hot spring in Iceland; on the contrary, there are hot springs all over in villages and rural areas; and some of these hot springs may actually become some of your favorites as the Blue Lagoon can get crowded and come to its capacity each day (although I must say that it is absolutely breathtaking).
4) The Golden Circle natural sites
The Golden Circle is another well-known destination in Iceland that I was able to experience while visiting there. Given that it is a day trip that includes a guide, which is something I typically shy away from just because of my natural desire to be curious and remain unconstrained, I would still do it each and every time I visit Iceland. Why? It has a great balance where one starts the trip in Reykjavik, sees Geysir and all of its geysirs, visits Thingvellir, which is the rift between two tectonic plates, views (and definately does NOT enter) the Gullfoss waterfall, and also gets to see Althing.
Now this all sounds like a lot to do in a day, and believe me: it is. However, The Golden Circle brings the perfect balance back around to the trip that allows for so much self-exploration and then gives you as a traveler a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment that you have seen all of the sites needed to see when visiting Iceland. Always see The Golden Circle tour and be proud that you have uncovered some of the nation’s finest and oldest well-kept secret.
The rich Viking history and glamorous natural wonders (such as the volcanoes, hot springs, wildlife, and geysers) make Iceland one of the most beautiful places in the world to visit, and consequently also one of my most favorite spots to see.
The landscaping is breathtaking, the food is unique, and the people are rugged and inviting. After hopping to other various countries in Europe, I have found that the pictures that take me back to the most beautiful places on earth always include those of Iceland.
These top four must-do things and must-see places in Iceland will help guide you in planning your next trip yonder. However, do not be afraid to do both some planning on your own and also some freelance exploring on your own while in Iceland. Always plan an extra two to three days for unplanned exploring where you can see the landscape and uncover it for yourself.
Best of fortune in your travels and please leave comments below so that we can discuss your travels and talk about other places to see and visit while iceland!