Ever since I was a kid, Iceland struck me as a winter wonderland. I suppose the name is what gave it that kind of a visual imagery as a kid. As time flew and I read more and more about this fantasy wonderland, I discovered that it was far more beautiful than what I imagined. Ice wasn’t the only thing there. It was in fact, filled with stunning and unusual pieces of nature. It was this that put Iceland high up on my bucket list of travel.
Iceland is a small European country – an island along the North Atlantic belt. My first textbook association with the country came with its capital Reykjavík, which is considered to be the cleanest city in the World. With history lessons, I discovered about the Vikings visiting it. Then with advanced geography, I learned of its volcanoes, fjords, geothermal springs and the stunning Northern Lights. The place kept growing on me with every article I read. I have now reached a point where I have finalized my top 10 things to do in Iceland. Let me share that with you.
1) Chase the Northern Lights
When the dark cloudless night sky is lit up in bright greens, blues or pink dancing lights, it must be nothing short of magic. Aurora Borealis was the term that I learned in school which became a fascination as I saw pictures of the Northern Lights. Iceland is one of the key places to see the Northern lights, and the best part is that you do not have to go too far from Reykjavík to get them. Of course, a lot is left to your luck but I am hopeful that the Norse spirits of Valkyries would be pleased to see me and shine down their glinting armor.
2) Visit Þingvellir National Park
Thingvellir National Park, as it is called in English, is a part of the UNESCO sites for its geological wonders. From waterfalls to its tectonic plate rift valleys, hot geysers, volcanoes and more – there is enough here to surprise and delight you. For me, it is about the three of my favorite activities – hiking, scuba diving and snorkeling.
The hiking trails around this park showcase the famous tectonic plate activities that we have only read of. The rift valleys formed by the clash between the North American plates and the Eurasian ones are very visible and vibrant with their colors. A treasure best experienced as you walk the place.
Silfra Lake along these same rifts is the place for Dry Suit Scuba diving and if you are not qualified enough for it, then snorkeling is a must do. The clarity of the water is supposed to be the best in the world and the marine life delightful. Naturally, this is quite irresistible to me.
3) Experience Blue Lagoon
One of the most popular things to do in Iceland, Blue Lagoon is on my list for the same very reasons as yours. The stunning blue lake is a natural geothermal lake with healing salts in the form of dissolved minerals in sea water. A spa session here is an experience of a lifetime. Going all that way to Iceland definitely merits one visit and who am I to say no when nature itself wants to pamper me.
4) Go Whale Watching in Iceland
It would be something else to see these majestic creatures of the sea in their natural habitat. Iceland is popular for its whale watching tours – which are all day tours in Iceland. You can spot the huge Killer whales and Humpback whales. The bonus for me on this trip would be catching the seabirds like the Skuas and the cute Puffins.
5) Explore the magic of Westfjords
When you talk of birds and whales, the one region that I definitely would want to do is Westfjords. Sparsely populated, this is not in the usual tourist circuit and which is why it is still pristine and beautiful. Rare birds nestled on high cliffs, seals along the shores, whales in the oceans and Arctic Foxes on the mainland – are some sights that you can expect here. Add to that the majestic waterfalls like Dynjandi and the rare but colorful beaches like Rauðasandur with its white, black and red sands. I also, hear there are some interesting folklores hidden within these wonders.
6) Ice Caving
Caving anywhere has been a thrilling activity for me and ice caves – the thought of it itself gives me an adrenaline high. Skirting around all those iced paths to discover variously shaped icicles and the stunning colors within the caves is something that I think I can experience only in Iceland. The Skaftafell Ice Cave exploration is combined with a glacier hike and can be booked easily from Reykjavik – making this an easily do-able activity.
7) Enter a Volcano in Iceland
I have to live up to my Indiana Jones Avatar and exploring a volcano from the insides is just what I have on my mind. The Thrihnukagigur Volcano is just what I need. I can picture myself being lowered down to those elusive ledges that take me to the colorful interiors of the mountains. Who knows, I might just find some treasure in one of those Magma chambers. 😉
8) Boat tours & trekking at Jokulsarlon Glacier
When in Iceland, you got to see the Icebergs. Jokulsarlon Glacier Lake is just the place that I need to visit for it. A boat tour takes me as close as possible to these frozen wonders while allowing me to spot the friendly seals. Adding to the charm of the place are its various glacier trails – all of which lead to some more ice caves. Who knows, maybe this might be the place to see the Northern lights too.
9) Photograph the Gullfoss Waterfall
I grew up with this picture of stunning waterfall staring at me from a wall. I always dreamt of visiting this three-tiered waterfall, only to realize later that it was the famous Gullfloss Waterfall of Iceland. Among the top 10 waterfalls of the world, they say the way the way the same drops off the cliff to the canyon, gives an appearance of the water disappearing into the center of the earth The gushing waters of this Gullfoss Waterfalls, are something I want to capture with my own camera.
10) Try Snowmobiles in Iceland
I have tried all the thrill that water has to offer – jetskiing, seakarting etc. Time to check out how it feels on the snow. It would be amazing to rush along those iced paths and glaciers. The experience will definitely heighten the joy of the unique landscape. Maybe a stopover at one of those hot geysers that spout every now and then. Snowmobiles is a definite yes from me as one of the things to do in Iceland.
So, while you pin this one up as your bucketlist for travel, tell me which one of these would be your favorite thing to do in Iceland?
P.S: The images in the post are given by the Media Center of Iceland Tourism