Tips for traveling to Iceland
If you are interested in stunning landscapes, geothermal pools to relax in, and getting off the beaten path Iceland will be a great destination for you. During my time in Iceland I never got tired of looking at the sweeping vistas along the coast and traveling inland to see vast geothermal areas. You can even see where the earth's teutonic plates come together in Iceland!
My clients who go to Iceland are there to see the natural wonders, too. They want to see the isolated places, visit the Blue Lagoon, and sample the varieties of food and shopping in Iceland's capital, Reykjavík.
5 Things to Do in Iceland
- Whale Watching Tour – There are many tours available that allow you to see whales as well as puffins. We can arrange a tour with a naturalist, which gives you a better chance of seeing both of these along with other wildlife. For whale watching you'll want to visit Iceland in the summer months. You'll have the best chance for spotting whales from late April through September. TIP: Minke whales are the most common whale spotted in Iceland.
- Blue Lagoon Spa – This mineral-rich attraction is minutes from the Keflavik International airport. I highly recommend making a reservation to eat in their wonderful Lava Restaurant, where you'll eat gourmet level Icelandic food while watching the Blue Lagoon through the windows. You can actually stay at the Blue Lagoon, and get a pass to enjoy their one-of-a-kind spa along with soaking in the warm waters. It's other-worldly and beautiful, even though this particular geothermal pool is completely man-made. The entire lagoon renews every 2 days with completely fresh, relaxing hot water. While it's definitely on the tourist trail, it's a must-see for your trip to Iceland.
TIP: There are many natural geothermal soaking pools in Iceland to explore, too.
- West Fjords – Located in northwest Iceland, the West Fjords are breathtaking to see. These fjords lie on the Denmark Strait, facing the east coast of Greenland. You'll be able to see many unique places, such as the Icelandic Sea Monster Museum and the well-known Látrabjarg cliff. It's easy to spend several days exploring this remote region of Iceland. For complete information about all the sights in the West Fjords consult their website.
- Skogafoss is the most scenic waterfall in Iceland, but not the only one you will see on your trip. It's also a good opportunity to take a photo of an Icelandic double rainbow. This waterfall has a drop of almost 200 feet. Legend has it that gold is hidden within the falls. Skogafoss is located in the southern part of Iceland, on the Skógá River.
- Silfra - Silfra is one of the most amazing dive spots in the world. It's located in Iceland's Thingvellir National Park. This is the crevice between the tectonic plates of the North American and the Eurasian continents. It is the only place in the world where you can dive between two tectonic plates. The shifting of the earth (about 2 centimeters each year) creates new caverns and tunnels. The three main dive sites are Silfra Hall, Silfra Cathedral, and Silfra Lagoon. The maximum depth is about 207 feet. The water is the purest in the world, and you can feel free to take a sip while diving.
As you can see, planning your time out is important to do before you go. We'll need to decide whether you want to drive yourself or book guided tours with expert locals. TIP: Rental cars and gas are very expensive in Iceland, so plan your budget accordingly. As you are planning your Iceland bucket list, keep in mind these additional places to visit.
5 More Things to Do in Iceland!
- Iceland is one good place to visit if you want to see the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights). You'll need to visit during the winter months to have the best chance. You need dark and partially clear skies to have the best opportunity of seeing the Northern Lights.
TIP: Thingvellir National Park is your best bet.
- Holuhraun is located in the highlands of Iceland, and requires a four-wheel drive vehicle. This area is home to formed lava flow from a volcano that lasted from August 2014 through February 2015. When peering into the rifts of the lava, you see many beautifully vivid colors. While driving along the sand, you can still see steam in certain areas. You'll be asked to carefully stay on the marked paths in this area.
- Reynisfjara Beach is a black sand beach on the southern coast of Iceland. You'll also see basalt columns in the area. Because the black sand is lava that cooled once it hit the water, the "sand" is more like small stones. (If you want to see white sand and red sand beaches go to the West Fjords area of Iceland.) While visitng Reynisfjara you can also see Gardar, which is a basalt cliff that resembles a staircase to heaven. It is a natural pyramid and was formed by columnar jointing. There are many basalt columns throughout Iceland, but this is by far the most exceptional.
- Reykjavik is Iceland's capital city. There are many bars, restaurants, museums, and shopping areas to choose from in Reykjavik, so you can spend a few days there. You'll notice the Hallgrimskirkja Church, which has a viewing platform at the top, dominates the landscape in the city. You can also visit the Harpa Concert Hall and the Old Harbor area of the city.
- Seljavallalaug is one of the oldest outdoor swimming pools in Iceland. It's located in the south of Iceland, near Ásólfsskáli. It's something to see, but be careful about getting in. The algae which sometimes gives the water its amazing color creates a very slick surface, and the pool is not cleaned often.
To get started planning your Iceland adventure first decide what your budget is for the trip, and the time of year you want to travel. Then contact us for suggestions and help with booking. In the meanwhile, too, you can leave your name and email below, and we'll send you a copy of our Destination Iceland guide (it's free!). You'll also receive our weekly Travel Tips newsletter.