Top 14 reasons for visiting Iceland

Top 14 reasons why you should visit Iceland

In recent years, Iceland has become increasingly popular as a tourist destination. It is known for its unique and relatively untouched nature, renewable energy and boasts of having one of the purest water in the world. Tourist are especially drawn to Iceland because of its natural beauty which landscape is nothing short of amazing and its natural phenomenon including the Midnight Sun and Northern Lights. It is contains exquisite attraction sites and contains a vast land of various landscape including waterfalls, lava, lakes, volcanos, mountains, lagoons, craters and glaciers.

Northern Lights

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The Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights as they are also called, is an astrological phenomenon caused by particles or electrons from the sun that are blown into the cosmos by sun storms and as they get trapped in the earth’s magnetic field, they can be seen as vivid lights of different colors dancing in the sky. The Northern Lights can be seen from late August until April, however best time to see them is from October to March. The best conditions for Northern Lights are clear sky, solar activity and cold winter nights.

Midnight Sun

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Iceland is faced with extreme fluctuation in daylight through the year. In contrast with long, dark winter nights, the summers in Iceland are known for being extremely bright. The Midnight Sun is a natural phenomenon in Iceland that occurs during the summer months, which causes the day to remain very bright and during the brightest weeks the sun even remains visible for 24 hours, without fully setting. Despite its exquisiteness, it can take some time to get used to and is known to interfere with the tourists’ sleep pattern.

Geothermal Baths

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Due to highly active volcanic areas Iceland has abundance of natural hot springs and geothermal areas to bath in. There are numerous natural hot springs and partly man-made geothermal lagoons and pools around the island. Below is a list of some recommended hot springs and geothermal areas to bath in:

  • Secret Lagoon – was constructed in 1891 and therefore the oldest geothermal pool in the country. It is a popular stop for tourist doing the famous Golden Circle route.
  • Krossneslaug – a geothermal pool located at the Costline Strandir in Westfjords. The mesmerizing landscape and sound of the waves really put you at ease.
  • Blue Lagoon – is the most popular natural bath, situated in Grindavik, a short drive from Keflavik International Airport. Silica Minerals and Algae found in the water are said to be therapeutic for various skin disorders including conditions like Eczema and Psoriasis. You can combine it with an airport transfer
  • Sky Lagoon – is a brand new geothermal lagoon and a luxurous spa that opened in April 2021, located in Kópavogur, just about 10 minutes drive from Reykjavik. 
  • Landmannalaugar – is a true paradise on earth with its vast rhyolite mountains, hot springs and nature, located in the highlands of Iceland. It is a popular hiking trail and a place to bath. More info
  • Lake Myvatn Nature Bath – Geothermal Lagoon and Spa located north of Iceland, about a 6-hour drive from Reykjavik. The mineral rich water contains Sulphur that is said to have beneficial effect on Asthma and respiratory conditions as well as some trace minerals that are beneficial for the skin. 
  • Reykjadalur – literally means ‘Smoke Valley’ is a popular hiking trail, about 1 hour walk from Hveragerði (about 40 minutes drive from Reykjavík), that leads to a natural hot spring you can bath in. The best way to get there is by car.

Cultural Heritage

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Iceland is known for its literary heritage and preservation of the renowned Icelandic Sagas, one of the oldest literary treasures dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries, which depicts stories about the lives of the early settlers, the Vikings and their lives and struggles. To get an insight into the life of the Vikings, we recommend visiting the Saga Museum in Reykjavik or if you are going North, you should definitely make a stop at Sauðárkrókur and witness and interact with Vikings through immersive VR technology.

For an enjoyable dining experience, where the waiters are dressed in Viking garments, we recommend visiting the Viking Village in Hafnarfjörður, a 15 minute drive from Reykjavík. If you go there, you should go truly Viking style and try out fermented shark with a shot of Brennivín. 

Iceland’s official language is Icelandic, which is a Nordic language that descended from Old Norse. Due to the isolation the language hasn’t changed much, thus Icelanders can still understand the Icelandic Sagas without much difficulties.

We recommend visiting the following historic places and monuments from the age of Vikings:

  • The first established Parlament at Þingvellir founded by  the Vikings in 930
  • Reykholt one of the most historical places in Iceland and home of Snorri Sturluson, one of the most important figures in Icelandic medieval history and the first known Icelandic author. His works include: Heimskringla, Egils Saga. If interested you could also check out Snorrastofa Museum and visit Snorralaug.
  • Stöng Commonwealth Farm at Þjórsárdalur valley, by Hjálparfoss Waterfall.  It is a replica of a Viking turf longhouse which was buried under volcanic ash and was reconstructed in 1974
  • Glaumbær Turf Farmhouse – a preserved turf farm dating back to 874 AD
  • Eiríksstaðir Living Museum – to get insight into the life of the renowned Vikings Eirík the Red and his son Leif the Lucky.

Volcanic Activity

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Iceland is thought to be one of the youngest landmasses in the world and situated on a volcanic hotspot it owns it existence to a volcanic fissure in the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where the American and the Eurasian tectonic plates meet. Every year the coutnry grows by 5 cm causing a larger rift between these plates. These cracks can be seen at Þingvellir (part of the Golden Circle route) and by the symbolic footbridge called Bridge Between Continents, located on Reykjanes Peninsula.

Being a country with highly active volcanic activity, Iceland has often caused media attention. The eruption in Eyjafjallajökull in 2010 is definitely the most famous one. Currently, there is an active eruption in Iceland in Fagradalsfjall volcano, located on Reykjanes Peninsula. You can watch the eruption live or take a tour there.

See recommended tours: Golden CircleVolcano TourSouth Shore and Diamond Tour.

Unique Icelandic Horses

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The Icelandic horse is unique for its specific Icelandic gait called ‘tölt’ and it is the only horse breed in the world that is able to perform five gaits. Most horses only possess three or four gaits. The most common gaits are walk, trot and canter or gallop, but the Icelandic horse has two additional gaits, flying pace and tölt.

The horse descends from breeds the Vikings settlers brought with them from the British Isles around the 9th century. Due to isolation and strict regulation the Icelandic horse is one of the purest breeds in the world.

The breed is also widely celebrated for its spirited and gentle temperament. By nature they are fairly little but strong and tend to be around 140 cm tall. By international standards, horse breeds shorter than 1.47 meters and called ponies. Despite the small stature, the horse is very versatile and sturdy and able to endure hard winters.

 

Delicious Tap Water

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Is the Icelandic tap water safe to drink? This is a typical question, tourists ask upon travelling to Iceland. Icelanders are so fortunate to have limitless reserve of delicious and pure ice cold water straight from the tap. The Icelandic tap water is said to be one of the purest water in the world. It contains no additives or contaminants and is not treated with chlorine or any other  chemicals. The Icelandic tap water comes from natural springs which has been filtered through layers of lava decades prior to reaching the tap. 

Unfortunately, many tourists are unaware of this and purchase bottles everywhere they go, but as everybody know, the plastic bottles are more harmful for the body and the environment. Massive marketing has also established Icelandic bottled water abroad, including brands like:  Icelandic Glacial and Iceland Natural Spring Water.

However, it has to be said that sometimes, the tap water is mixed with warm water which is rich in sulfur and has a very distinct smell. So, just make sure to let the water run a bit prior to drinking it.

The water is so clean that you can even drink directly from rivers and lakes in Iceland. Also the water at Silfra fissure, a popular spot for snorkeling in Iceland, located at Þingvellir, is so pure that its said to be the clearest water on Earth providing incredible underwater visibility.

Black Beaches

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Iceland is unique for its magnitude of black sand beaches which provide some of the most awe inspiring landscape in the country with a bit of mystical undertone that both tourists and locals are intrigued by. Although, Iceland is not a sunbathing resort, as the sea is too cold to bath in, every year tourists flock to the black sand beaches. This distinct black color of the sand is formed by erosion of volcanic materials including lava and basalts,  as a result of volcanic activity and its hot running lava which solidified upon hitting the cold water.

The most famous black sand beaches in Iceland are:

Reynisfjara Beach – located on the south coast, by the charming village Vík. With its stunning basalt rock formation, it is unarguable one of the most beautiful black sand beach in Iceland and the most visited one.

Diamond Beach – or Breiðamerkursandur is a black sand beach with chunks of washed-up glaciers that shine like diamonds against the black colored sand, located by Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon on the south coast.

Djúpalónssandur – or the Black Lava Pearl Beach as it is often referred to, located on the west coast of Iceland, near Snæfellsjökull volcano, west of Iceland. 

Others worth mentioning are Sólheimasandur in the south coast, where you find a plane wreck and Stokknes in westfjords.

 

The Icelandic Cuisine

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The Icelandic gastronomy is a reason enough to visit the country. It is not only “a feast for the eyes, but also a banquet for your taste buds”. In fact, Iceland is one of the top nation to visit and many tourist and chefs flock to the country for the intriguing the Food and Fun festival, which is held every in February or March. Icelandic food is also very healthy due to the abundance of crystal clear water and fresh fish, clean air and freely grazing cows and sheep.  

Rooted in tradition are many fermented dishes from the age of Vikings which are unusual and can get time to adjust to, but the modern cuisine has evolved and contains a variety of delicious dishes. The main pillars of the Icelandic cuisine include lamb, potatoes, fish, seafood and dairy. 

 

Safe Country

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Iceland is the ideal tourist destination and very safe place to visit, due to it low crime rate and exquisite air quality. In fact it was ranked as the ‘World’s Safest Country in 2019’ by the Global Finance Magazine. There are no ‘bad’ neighborhoods, children can play alone in the street and nobody needs a bodyguard, not even the president. Icelanders are said to be one of the friendliest nations and everybody speaks English, as children start learning English in school from the age of twelve. It is also a safe country to visit during COVID-19 pandemic and has in fact been marked as a green country.

 

Natural Diversity

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Iceland has grown tremendously through the years as a tourist destination and is often referred to as the Land of fire and Ice. The tourists are especially intrigued by its stunning nature and its diverse landscape with striking contrasts of glaciers, volcanoes, waterfall, mountains, black sand beaches, lava fields, craters, rivers and lakes.  Thus, everybody should find something that appeals to them, such as nature sightseeing tours or any activity , glacier tours, boat tours, hiking tours, horse riding tours, whale watching tours, dog sledding tours, ice climbing or relaxing in a geothermal water.

 

Music Festivals

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Through the years Iceland has given birth to many talented tourists, including Björk, Gus Gus, Sigurrós, Of Monsters and Men and Kaleo just to name a few. There are also numerous music festivals worth visiting, including Icelandic Airwaves, Aldrei fór ég suður and national festival in Westman Island called Þjóðhátíð í eyjumSee more

Whales around Iceland

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Iceland has become one of the top destination for whale watching. Favorable condition make Iceland a breeding ground for variety of whales, including abundance of summer daylight and unique mixture of warm and cold sea currents, which attract krill and fish. Some whale species stay in Icelandic waters year around, but the peak season for spotting a whale around Iceland is during the summer months, from May to September. 

Various whales and dolphins species can be seen in Iceland, but the chance of spotting specific species depends on the location and the season. The main whale species that can be spotted around Iceland include: Minke Whale, Humpback Whale, Blue Whale, Fin Whale, Orcas, White-beaked dolphins and Harbor porpoises.

There are many places in Iceland where you can go whale watching, including Húsavík, Akureyri, Reykjavík, Ólafsvík and Dalvík. In Reykjavík you can choose a standard Whale Watching boat tour or go on a Rib Boat, which is incredible fast and fun.

 

 

 

 

Amazing Puffins

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Iceland is a breeding ground to one of the largest colonies of puffins. In fact, Iceland inhabits about 8-10 million puffins which contribute to more than 60% of the world’s entire Atlantic puffins population.

Many species of puffin exist, but the species that can be spotted around Iceland is called the Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica) and sometimes it is referred to as the Icelandic Penguin, due to its resemblance. Although, puffins can be seen as early as early April to late September, the peak season is between May and August. Locations where puffins are regularly spotted in Iceland include cliff Dyrhólaey on the south coast, Látrabjarg in the Westfjords, Ingólfshöfði and the Westman Islands.

Many companies offer a combination of Whale watching and Puffin tours. You can choose from standard Puffin Tour or if you are more adventurous you can go exploring the puffins on a Rib Boat from Reykjavik Harbor.

Top reasons why Iceland is an Ideal Tourist Destination during COVID-19

Top reasons why Iceland is the ideal tourist destination during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Are you tired of staying home and feeling trapped in your own country due to restrictions caused by COVID-19? Iceland‘s borders remain open for visitors, albeit certain restrictions. Why not visit Iceland then? As the virus becomes more contained and more people get vaccination, international borders are slowly opening and restrictions lifting. When it comes to planning a trip, it can seem overwhelming, especially at times like coronavirus. This article provides information regarding COVID-19 restrictions, suggested attraction sites and other practical information.

Safe Place to Travel

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Iceland is without a doubt a safe place to travel to. Nearly all the residents in Iceland over the age of 16 have been vaccinated. As of July 7th, about 10% of the population had received at least one shot of vaccination and 80% had been fully vaccinated. Iceland has opened its borders for vaccinated travellers, but those that haven’t received a vaccination must quarantine for 5 days. More info

Besides, being the second largest island in Europe, Iceland is quite a large island with lots to see and do and having a population under 368 thousand it is also the most sparsely populated country with about 80% of the country being uninhabited. About 63% of the residents live in Reykjavik Capital area.

Consequently, the virus is easy to track and tourists can explore the country without interacting with many people. 

For your own convenience you can follow live update about virus statistics and get a virus tracing app.

Fewer Tourists

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Due to the impacts of COVID-19 and its travelling restrictions, there are fewer tourists in Iceland. Thus attraction sites won’t be covered with tourists, queues will be close to none and you don’t have to worry about booking a table or a seat in advance, in fear of running out of capacity.

We recommend the following modes to travel:

By rental car

The most convenient way to travel is by car. That way you can cover more ground and safe time and visit more places.  It is possible to have a car waiting for your at the airport. Book a car  

Private Tour

To optimize your trip when travelling to Iceland for the first time we recommend booking a private tour with a guide.  That way you can get a personalized service and travel comfortably to the places you want to see and get an expertise touch without worrying about anything. See our tours here.

Great for Photography

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Since there are fewer tourists, taking a picture or shooting a video should be piece of cake and the probability of somebody walking in front of your camera and ruining the perfect shot is less likely. If you want you can also travel during the night, when there will be even less people and it still will be bright outside. 

Witness Volcanic Eruption

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Currently, there is an active eruption in Fagradalsfjall Volcano on Reykjanes Peninsula. Watch the eruption live in the comfort of your home or get your shoes on and witness the active volcano erupt in front of your eyes. This is an opportunity that doesn’t come often, don’t miss your  chance and book a tour with us.  Hire a car or join us for a Private Volcano Tour.

 

Restrictions Lifted

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Life in Iceland has remained quite normal, despite the corona pandemic and infections been kept to minimum thanks to great cooperation with health care, security and governmental bodies. Things are slowly getting back to normal and most restrictions have been lifted. Masks are no longer required and social distancing is mere a part of the past. All public services are open including gyms, hair salons, swimming pools, shops and theatres and opening hours of pubs and restaurants are now back to normal. 

Now, Iceland has opened its borders for visitors, albeit certain restrictions during COVID-19. Travellers that can provide a proof of vaccination against the virus or immunity are exempt for travel restrictions, others need to undergo a 5 days quarantine upon arrival during which time they will be tested twice for the virus. Please note individuals that are exempt from the travel ban but who are subject to visa requirement, must still be issued a visa prior to travelling. For a list of approved countries, visa and more information about travel restriction click here.  

 

 

The Midnight Sun

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The days are long during summertime in Iceland and you can experience ‘Midnight Sun’ from mid May to mid August. The brightness reaches its peak during Summer Soltstice, the longest day of the year (June 21st), when the sun is visible for 24 hours, if weather permits, and doesn’t fully set. This happens due to the proximity to the Arctic Circle and occurs as the earth’s axis tilt towards the sun for six months and can be seen in the Northern Hemisphere, The Norther you go the brighter. This means you can travel longer in less time and take pictures during daylight even at 2 AM in the morning.

As it can take some time to adjust to the extended daylight, travellers are recommended to bring a sleep mask to cover their eyes to prevent sleep disturbances.

To get the most out of the sun, we recommend booking a private tour or a car to optimize your travel and being able to travel during the evening and cover more ground.

Nature Diversity

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Iceland is often referred to as the Land of Fire and Ice, due to it’s volcanic activity, geothermal energy and glaciers. It is known for its stunning nature and diverse landscapes with striking contrasts of geysers, glaciers, volcanoes, craters, glaciers, lakes, rivers, glacier lagoons, waterfalls, lava fields and black sand beaches.

With its abundance of natural diversity and attraction sites, Iceland has a lot to offer, whether one seeks adventure or needed relaxation, everybody should find something that appeals to them.

Tourists are especially attracted to Iceland’s stunning and relatively untouched nature, its tranquility and geothermal energy.

We recommend the following attractions and popular activities:

For more inspiration and tours click here

Boost the economy

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Even though the virus didn’t cost many lives in Iceland, the pandemic really hit the economy hard. Iceland is a small nation that relies on tourism to boost economy and supply employment. Thus, travel restrictions and social distancing resulted in many businesses having serious financial difficulties or going bankrupt and lots of people that either directly or indirectly were connected to tourism, lost their livelihood. As the wheels of tourism are slowly starting please help us ignite the love for tourists and boost the economy.

We recommend you take your time to fully explore the country and get to know the culture, maybe learn a few words of Icelandic and really breath it it, indulge yourself and pick an activity you haven’t tried before and truly cherish the moment. Try out some Icelandic dishes and don’t forget to buy some souvenirs for the people at home and share your adventure with your friends and family on social media. Also, please take into account that unvaccinated tourist are required to follow a five days quarantine with test unless they can prove they have acquired immunity.

For more information about what is happening in Reykjavik and Iceland and what to see and do while travelling in Iceland click here.