Iceland, one of the most volcanically active landscapes on Earth, lies on the edge of the Arctic Circle and on the Mid-Atlantic ridge. This majestic and mysterious island is an inspiring mix of natural wonders, including breathtaking glaciers, bubbling hot springs and rugged fjords. Apart from Reykjavík, the tiny capital of Iceland, only few other pocketsize villages, remote farms and hamlets are scattered along the coast. The highlands are completely wild and showcase the creations of the mighty natural forces. No wonder that the country has been topping bucket lists in the recent years and is quickly becoming one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations.
This isolated and remotely located country is home to some of the most unique landscapes in the world. Here, nature reigns supreme and one quickly gets to see how utterly insignificant one is in the greater scheme of things. The scenic landscape is packed with glaciers, waterfalls, lava fields, majestic mountain ranges, streams and rainbows; the wildlife is also amazingly rich. No wonder that the destination almost screams to be discovered – where else can you find such an amazing open-air true-to-size exhibition of natural wonders.
If you want to see one of the nature’s most spectacular and beautiful phenomena – the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis – Iceland is your ideal holiday destination. But you need to know that there is no guarantee you will see them, as they are also one of the most elusive and unpredictable attractions this planet has to offer. Several conditions are to be fulfilled for seeing them: the season, weather, length of stay, location and nevertheless a bit of luck. Thus, choosing the correct location to observe this phenomenon is of great importance. It is thus no wonder that several hotels even offer a wake up call to their guests, if the Aurora appears.
Icelandic horses are small, at times pony-sized horses, which were brought to Iceland on Viking ships. For many years, these long-lived, sure-footed and hardy animals served as the only source of transport over the rough terrain of Iceland. They are world famous for it’s five gaits, especially for the smooth gait tölt and considered one of the purest breeds in the world. Thus riding these incredibly sociable and friendly horses is an experience not to be missed. The horseback perspective of this incredible country will only deepen your experience of this amazing destination.
Numerous glaciers and volcanoes scattered around the island, make Iceland “the land of fire and ice”. What is more: due to the unusual combination of volcanoes and glaciers located side by side, regular eruptions under the glaciers are a common phenomenon. The largest glacier is Vatnajökull, which covers the greater part of the southern and central highlands. Another ice creation in the southeast of the country is Jökulsárlón, or Glacier's-River-Lagoon. Filled with gigantic icebergs, this real fairyland of ice and wildlife has become one of Iceland's most popular attractions. On the other hand, Iceland has about 130 dormant and active volcanoes. The most famous and active volcano in Iceland is mount Hekla, which has erupted 18 times since 1104. Other active volcanoes, measured in terms of the number of eruptions besides Hekla, are Grímsvötn, Katla, Askja, Krafla and Eyjafjallajökull, which caused massive disruption in European flights after its eruption in 2010.
Do not let the number of inhabitants – merely about 200,000 and we are talking about the capital here – mislead you: Reykjavík is strikingly cosmopolitan for its size. Although it is merely a town by international standards, if we compare it to places like London, Paris or Berlin, the world’s most northerly capital surprises with colourful buildings, captivating art, fabulous hotels for every budget, chic shopping, culinary creativity and wild nightlife. Thanks to fabulous modern Icelandic restaurant Kolabrautin in the gorgeous Harpa Concert Hall and Fish Market, Reykjavík has become also a popular destination for foodies.
The wildlife in Iceland is mesmerizing and the Westman Islands are one of the top destinations to go to, if visiting between April and August. Why is that? This is the time when the archipelago turns into the biggest puffin colony in the world – Iceland is the breeding home to about 60 percent of the world’s Atlantic puffins. No wonder that these small, sturdy birds with lovely orange beaks have become an emblem for the Westman Islands. The best base for seeing these cute-orange beaked birds is Vestmannaeyjar, which is located on the only inhabited island, the island of Heimaey.
The Highlands (also known as the hálendið, or the Interior) is the unpopulated central area of Iceland, where man has never settled or built home. The area, which was virtually inaccessible in the past, is today generally accessible only in the summertime. However, if you manage to be there during this period, the visit definitely pays off. You will get a chance to see the a great number of breathtaking natural phenomena, including smooth glacial valleys, deserts of black sand, barren glacial moraine, active and spent volcanoes, strange oases of vegetation, steaming hot springs and natural hot rivers, where you can bathe and relax. For the latter, the geothermal area of Landmannalaugar is especially popular.
No trip to Iceland is complete without visiting the Blue Lagoon, which has been listed one of the 25 wonders of the world by National Geographic and is thus considered the most popular destination in Iceland. Set in the surreal surroundings of an ancient lava field on the Reykjanes peninsula, just off the road between Keflavík and Grindavík, this geothermal wonder is the perfect place to relax and rejuvenate. The scene seems almost surreal: silver towers, roiling clouds of steam, and people covered with white silica mud. The water is superheated at 38°C and rich in blue-green algae, mineral salts and fine silica mud, which are beneficial for the skin.
Discover stunning scenery and dramatic landscapes. A local expert guide helps you explore the unspoiled Icelandic countryside with volcanoes, lava fields, hot springs, mountains, fjords, glaciers and waterfalls. It is possible to book this tour with or without accommodation.
Our Northern Lights Exploration series are designed to include the highlights of Iceland and aim to maximize the chances of seeing the elusive Northern Lights. Head to the countryside from regions of Snæfellsnes Peninsula in the west to the Vatnajökull glacier in the southeast.