Iceland is one of those truly unique countries, which is very much at the mercy of the elements. Travelling between May and August will see you enjoying the expansive natural beauty under the midnight sun, the phenomenon by which the sunlight lasts well into the night. Visit in the other months of the year to get a shot at catching the Aurora borealis (but more on that later!).
Perfect for amateur adventurers as well as those who just need a break from the maddening crowd, here are four places you shouldn’t miss on an Iceland holiday:
First stop, get your bearings in Iceland’s postcard-esque capital of Reykjavik. Stay in one of the many brightly painted hotels or resorts and spend your first few nights in Iceland enjoying the joyful, friendly culture of the city.
Take a walking tour of the area and keep an eye out for the amazing design and art installations throughout the city. Like many more isolated areas of the world, the unique culture of Reykjavik created a serious concentration of creative culture, fostering the development of a number of artists and art galleries, the works of which will give you a great insight into the city and its people, as all good art should.
When you start to get hungry you’ll find no shortage of delicious local options. If you’re feeling adventurous there are some real tourist-scaring options (fermented shark, rams’ testicles) or you can try a Pyslurs, a speciality Icelandic hotdog, no scary catch here. Icelanders just make a great hotdog. Be sure to settle in for the night at one of the cosy local pubs for a beer and a chat with the locals.
You’ve seen the city, now time for a show, and what luck! Iceland’s extreme northern latitude makes it perfectly positioned to provide visitors with a front row seat to the greatest light show on earth, the Aurora Borealis.
The Aurora Borealis (or northern lights) is a natural occurrence which appears as a display of dancing, colourful lights across the sky.
The phenomenon occurs when charged solar particles hit the earth’s magnetic field and divert protons and electrons into our atmosphere. It’s a complicated process but the upshot is that once the particles discharge down and lose energy they release their photons and emit different colours of light depending on their properties, oxygen creates reds and greens whilst nitrogen creates oranges.
It’s possible to catch a glimpse of these from Reykjavik but it’ll be dimmer (thanks to the city’s lights) and altogether less impressive. Best to head to a more remote town (Thingvellir, Eldborgahraun and Siglufjordur are all good options) for your best shot and the best view. The experience is otherworldly and some say life-changing.
Fresh off your first awe-inspiring natural experience in Iceland, why not add another demonstration of nature in action? Take a trip to the north of Iceland and watch as litres and litres of water pour out of the river Skjálfandafljót and over this 30-metre-wide expanse of cliffs, tumbling 12 metres in a remarkable display of natural beauty.
The Goðafoss (Waterfall of the God – roughly translated) is purportedly named that due to a 1000 BC incident wherein Thorgeir Ljosvetningagodi Thorkelsson (try saying that three times fast…) committed Iceland to Christianity and symbolically threw statues of the old pagan gods into the falls in a dramatic display of his loyalty.
It’s a bit of a journey to get there, so best to stay close by in the gorgeous seaside towns of Akureyri or Húsavík, rich with great scenery, architecture and seafood. Both are around a 2 to 3-hour journey from the falls with plenty of options for transit available.
The Blue Lagoon
You will have seen some truly, beautiful things on your trip so far but let’s be honest, you’re likely to long for a moment to relax and enjoy some essential downtime. So, move your shoulders down, away from your ears, breath deeply through your nose and take a warm, relaxing soak in The Blue Lagoon, a geothermal hot spring.
Geothermal water is extremely hot water which pumps directly from the deep in the earth to the surface. Whilst in some areas this creates geysers or boiling mud (the non-mud-wrap kind) there are also instances wherein the hot water cools significantly before reaching the surface (or on contact with the cold air) resulting in gorgeous pools milky blue water, just the right temperature for bathing.
Whilst there are a number of alternative geothermal spa locations, the Blue Lagoon is conveniently located just 30 minutes outside of the Reykjavik city centre.
Go for the day or stay a while with a breath-taking view of the wild Icelandic landscape waiting just outside your door.
If you’re ready to start planning your next truly unique holiday in Iceland (or anywhere else), we’d be delighted to help you create something that perfectly suits you or your family, you can give us a call on (02) 6041 5577, visit the office at 601 Dean Street, Albury or book an appointment with one of our expert travel agents via the form below.
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