Imagine an island covered in snow and ice. There are almost no trees but rocky deserts and empty moors as far as the eye can see. But it’s not icy everywhere, in places the ground itself is so hot that steam rises from the surface of the earth. Everywhere you look, mountaintops frame your view, and rivers bend and turn to eventually become mesmerizing waterfalls.
Geothermal areas, geysir
The golden circle is the most popular tourist route in Iceland for a reason. There’s Þingvellir, the heart of the Icelandic republic’s history, a valley that’s situated right where the earth’s tectonic plates are ever-so-slowly pulling apart. There’s also the Geysir geothermal area. The heat in the ground is visible on the surface, with bubbling cauldrons of boiling water and discolouration where the Strokkur geyser spews boiling water several meters into the air every 10 or so minutes!
There’s just something about a waterfall that instantly captures your attention. The thundering power of the endless stream of water, the fine mist in the air, the tiny rainbows glistening in the mist – there’s simply nothing like it! Iceland’s south coast has some of the country’s most popular waterfalls. There’s Seljalandsfoss, a tall waterfall that falls in the mouth of a cave. You can walk behind it, but be careful! Close by is the Skógafoss waterfall, a powerful waterfall falling over the edge of the Eyjafjöll mountains onto the plains below.
11% of Iceland’s surface is covered with glaciers. These icy white giants seem like endless fields of snow from afar but once you’re on top of them, you’ll see that they have a landscape of their own, with hills, valleys and canyons. If you feel like getting up close and personal, you can go hiking on a glacier, snowmobiling, or simply walk up the edge of the glacier, admiring its beauty.
Iceland has plenty of beaches, just not the sunny beige ones you’re used to. There’s nothing quite as striking as frothy white waves crashing up on the jet-black sands of Iceland’s coasts. The south coast’s Reynisfjara beach is infamous for its powerful waves but Djúpalónssandur in the Snæfellsnes peninsula is equally gorgeous!
The South coast is your one-stop shop for some of Iceland’s most magnificent nature. It’s got everything, verdant valleys and black sand beaches, endless lava fields and icy glaciers, water thundering downwards in waterfalls and water streaming upwards in erupting hot springs!
The west coast peninsula is like a microcosm of Iceland. You have black beaches, tall mountains, cozy villages, and above it all, the Snæfellsjökull glacier, made famous as the entrance to the centre of the earth in Jules Verne’s Journey to the centre of the earth.
You don’t have to go to the north of Iceland to see the northern lights but you should anyway, there’s so much to see there! Deep fjords dotted with picturesque fishing villages, high mountains with some of the best skiing Iceland has to offer and plenty of opportunities to go sailing, whale watching and even river rafting! For the adventurous sort, there’s every type of winter sport you can imagine and for everyone else, there’s a vibrant and lively birdlife and natural beauty.
You don’t have to go far from Reykjavík to see some awe-inspiring natural wonders. In fact, you don’t have to go far from the airport! The Reykjanes peninsula features deep lakes, charming fishing villages, endless lava fields and geothermal areas that would be the highlight of any trip to Iceland. You can even go into the ground itself, going deep into caves where liquid lava used to flow through unnels in the ground!
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