The Land of Fire and Ice is a country rich in natural attractions. Anyone interested in volcanoes, the Arctic, birdwatching, or marine biology will be fascinated by this beautiful island nation.
There are lots of exciting things to do in Iceland, and these are my 5 favorites.
See the Aurora Borealis
Iceland is the best place in the world to observe the Northern Lights. With the island’s low population density, there is less light pollution than in many other areas close to the Arctic Circle. And its position in the North Atlantic Ocean means it’s a warmer place to watch the Aurora Borealis than many others.
The Northern Lights are most visible between September and April when the nights are the longest and darkest. During this time, you can enjoy a Northern Lights Tour organized by locals who know the best locations from which to observe this stunning natural light show.
Every year between April and November, thousands of humpback whales come to feast on the fish swimming in the sea around Iceland. This gives visitors to Iceland a unique opportunity to observe whales in their natural habitat as they breach the water and swim around whale watching tour boats.
Whale watching tour boats depart from Reykjavik in the west regularly all year round. They sail from Akureyri and Húsavík in the north during the summer. If you take a boat trip during the summer, you’re most likely to encounter the world’s largest mammals swimming mere feet away from your vessel.
Often these tours also pass close to the uninhabited islands off the coast of Iceland where puffins nest in their thousands. This poses a wonderful opportunity for birdwatchers to observe a puffin colony.
Experience Arctic Landscapes
If you’re interested in Arctic landscapes, you’ll love Iceland’s largest national park. Vatnajökull National Park covers 14% of the island and features active volcanoes and Vatnajökull Glacier.
If you’re interested in Arctic exploration, you can join a guided hike along the glacier. Some tours of the area also include exploration of seasonal ice caves formed within the moving glacier.
The glaciers in the park feed into the famous Jökulsarlon Glacial Lake in the south of Iceland. There you can take tour boats through the crystal-clear waters to come face-to-face with 100-feet-tall icebergs! This glacial lagoon has featured in many Hollywood movies, such as Die Another Day and Batman Begins.
Admire Powerful Waterfalls and Geysers
Iceland’s rugged landscape and melting glaciers provide perfect conditions for some of the world’s most beautiful waterfalls. There are 2 particularly impressive waterfalls near Skogar. Skogafoss Waterfall is one of the most popular destinations for Icelandic day-trippers. Seljalandsfoss Waterfall features a powerful curtain of water. A popular footpath leads visitors behind the waterfall to a unique viewpoint.
Between Skogar and Reykjavik lies the Haukadalur valley where you can find 2 of the most famous geysers in Iceland. Geysir Hot Springs is the geyser that gave its name to this geothermal phenomenon. But nearby Strokkur Geyser is more popular with visitors because it erupts every 6-10 minutes in a fountain of hot water than reaches 66 feet high.
Enjoy Geothermal Benefits
The volcanic activity under the ground in Iceland provides many benefits for its people. The Svartsengi Geothermal Power Plant provides electricity and heat for a unique municipal hot water system. And nearby is the famous Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa where visitors can bathe in milky blue pools of hot, mineral-rich water.
Hyerabrauo is a traditional variety of Icelandic rye bread that you can try at Fontana Hot Springs. This local specialty is baked by burying dough in a pot beside hot springs so that it is baked by the geothermal heat.