Iceland is becoming known throughout the world for its beautiful landscape and natural geothermal wonders that have turned the small country of a little over 300,000 people into a popular tourist destination. The Icelandic culture is a unique and ancient one, and any visitor is bound to discover everything from beautiful scenery to one of a kind culinary experiences. If you’re thinking of making a trip to Iceland, here are a few things you won’t want to miss out on.
Perhaps the countries most well known and popular tourist destination, the Blue Lagoon is a natural hot springs with an otherworldly blue colour made by the mixed sea and fresh water that is rich with silica, minerals, and algae. The development of the Blue Lagoon has meant that there are massive changing rooms, restaurants, steam rooms, and saunas, for the ultimate in relaxation. Traditionally the lagoon is also said to possess healing powers.
This region of Iceland is part of a natural reserve and features a variety of landscapes, including colourful mountains and natural hot springs. Sitting in the interior of the island country, Landmannalaugar is a perfect place to stop off for anyone thinking of trekking or exploring the Icelandic Highlands.
Located within Vatnajökull National Park, Skaftafell is made up of a mix of rivers, mountains, and most spectacularly, beautiful glaciers. This is the perfect place for everyone from the expert outdoorsman to the first time trekker to explore the river banks, ice caves, and perhaps even get a glimpse of the famous and spectacular natural wonder of the Northern Lights.
One of Iceland’s most important historic places, the Þingvellir National Park is just a short drive east of Reykjavík and is the site of where Icelandic Parliament met from 930AD until up until the end of the 18th-century. This UNESCO World Heritage site is also home to a variety of ancient stone encampments, waterfalls, as well as the meeting point of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates.
The most northern capital in the world, Reykjavík, is home to a variety of colourful and intricately designed buildings and features a vibrant nightlife and culinary scene. The main “must-try” dish at any traditional Icelandic restaurant is Hákarl, the local delicacy of fermented shark—though few will find they can handle the pungent and overwhelming taste.
Whatever you decide to do on your Icelandic expedition, you will discover a country that is full of wonders as well as fun-loving and friendly local people.
Images by Berit Watkin, Andres Nieto Porras and Byran Poicus used under the Creative Commons License.