Visiting Iceland has been top of my bucket list of destinations for a few years now, but events have conspired against us each time we have tried to book a visit, but we are hoping that next year is the year we get there.
Why visit Iceland?
As a student I had a real fascination about Geology, volcanoes and earthquakes and where better to indulge in my inner geek than Iceland.
The country lies on the divergent boundary between the Eurasian plate and the North American plate and is one of the most active volcanic regions on Earth, where almost all types of volcanic and geothermal activity can be found thanks to the Iceland plume hotspot and the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which is visible on land.
Iceland’s location close to the top of the world makes it among the very best places on the planet to see the northern lights (aurora borealis) from September – April, which stubbornly refused to shine when we visited Lapland recently.
On the other end of the scale, from May until August the midnight sun in Iceland shines, although the best time to see it is around the summer solstice (21st June).
Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavik is a bustling and vibrant city which is home to almost half the country’s population. As a city it has something for everyone to enjoy including galleries, theatres, museums, stylish bars, restaurants, shops and public gardens.
Iceland with Family
Iceland is a very family friendly holiday location. In Reykjavík they have several family friendly festivals throughout the year, including; Viking Festival in March, Children’s Culture Festival in April, First Day of Summer in April, Festival of the Sea in June, Independence Day on June 17th, and Reykjavík Culture Night in August.
You can see seals, arctic foxes, reindeer, mink and all the Icelandic farm animals are residents of Iceland in the Laugardalur valley at Reykjavik Family Park and Zoo. It is also home to the botanical gardens a recreation park with fairground rides and even segway tours.
No visit to Iceland would be without visiting a geothermal pool. Blue Lagoon is the most famous (and most expensive), but there are numerous family friendly ones to choose from including the Secret Pool, which even has its own mini geyser which erupts every 5 minutes or Laugardalslaug, a thermal municipal pool with kid’s pools, hot tubs, water slides, and a miniature golf course.
Iceland ‘must visit’ attractions
Most commercial flights from the UK fly into Reykjavík, on the south coast of Iceland and the Golden Circle is the popular tourist route that consists of three equally stunning locations within a two-hour drive of the city: Þingvellir National Park, the Geysir Geothermal Area, and Gullfoss waterfall, making them all easy to visit in one day.
It is the area that contains most tours and travel-related activities in Iceland.
Go inside a Volcano
Thrihnukagigur (Three Peaks Crater) is a dormant volcano in Bláfjöll Country Park which last erupted over 4,000 years ago and offers the chance for tourists to be lowered down 400 ft through the crater via an open elevator system into the empty Magma chamber which has been likened to a natural colourful cathedral chamber.
Iceland is also one of the best places in the world for whale watching, with Húsavík at the north of the country, one of the best places in the country to organise a summer whale-watching cruise. There are more than 20 different species of cetacean that frequent the waters and the species seen most regularly on whale watching tours include minke, fin, blue, humpback, sperm and killer whales, white-beaked dolphins and harbour porpoises.
See Icebergs at Iceland’s deepest lake
Jökulsárlón is considered one of Iceland’s natural wonders. The Breiðamerkurjökull glacier has started receding back from the Atlantic Ocean and as it melts it breaks into pieces, forming icebergs that float in a slow procession through the lake until they reach the ocean and melt.
Go inside a glacier
Remember all those geography lessons at school all about glaciers? Well you can actually see one for your self at Langjokull, Iceland’s second largest glacier. Enjoy the opportunity of a lifetime as you journey up the white slopes on either snowmobiles or in a huge 4×4 vehicle and go deep inside the man-made ice tunnels that lead to the blue heart of the glacier.
Head to the beach
Reynisfjara Beach is a world-famous black-sand beach found on the south coast of the country. It’s particularly famous for its enormous basalt stacks, which according to local Icelandic folklore, were once trolls trying to pull ships from the ocean to shore. However, these trolls were dim and went out too late in the night; dawn broke on the horizon, turning the trolls into solid stone.
TV and Movie Set Heaven
The dramatic and ever-changing scenery of Iceland lends itself brilliantly to big, and small, screens. Movies such as Star Wars, Prometheus, Thor and James Bond plus T.V series such as Sense8 and Games of Thrones have all had set locations here.
The majority of Iceland’s population all live in coastal areas and I would love to drive the coastal highway, stopping to go off the beaten track and explore as much as the country has to offer as possible.
Is Iceland on your travel wishlist?
Image Credit: Shutterstock.com