It’s hard to describe Iceland in words but we will try our best. ICELAND – A mysterious wonderland of waterfalls, glaciers, viking legends and fiery volcanoes. A place so beautiful every photograph you take could be a postcard. A country filled with warm friendly folk, excited to show you around their homeland and share their stories. From frozen fractals in an icy wonderland of glaciers to steaming hissing vents in arid mountains, fuzzy sheep grazing in the highlands, and dramatic lava formations on black sand beaches – Iceland has it all. It feels like being in a national geographic documentary on our planet or being transported back in time to Earth a billion years ago, when the planet was a volatile ball of energy, still evolving, still creating, still breathing…coming to life!
From all our travels so far, Iceland was a breath of fresh air. Its unspoiled beauty and landscapes are an adventurer’s dream. There is so much to do and explore on this island that one could easily spend months here. Scuba diving between the continental plates, watching the sky come alive with the northern lights, glacier hiking, horse riding, whale watching…the list is endless.
Here is a list of our Top Ten Icelandic Moments from our two-week trip to the country.
Hiking amidst the colorful mountains of Landmannalaugar
Landmannalaugar is the starting point of the famous Laugavigur hiking trail. We had planned for the 4 day hike, but the weather turned on us. A storm rolled in and we had to cancel our bookings. So we decided to do a day trip from Reykjavik instead, which turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip. A 5-6 hour hike in the area gives you an opportunity to experience the famous Laugavigur trail and soak in the view of these majestic colorful mountains.
Driving around the Golden Circle
The golden circle is a 300 km tourist route sprinkled with waterfalls, geysers, and a national park where you can hike among some of the most unusual landscapes in the world and scuba dive between the submerged tectonic plates of Europe and America.
Diving between the continental plates of North America and Eurasia in icy blue, mind numbing waters is exhilarating. It had been on my diving bucket list for a while and I’m glad I got a chance to experience it. The amount of gear required for this dive is exhausting, I had 4-5 layers on including the dry suit, which kept me warm but was no doubt uncomfortable. The water was close to freezing and I couldn’t feel my face and my fingers throughout the dive. Musu wasn’t too thrilled about it so I went by myself of course, how can I pass on this once in a lifetime experience! Would I do it again..Naaaaah!! I’ll take the warm Caribbean waters minus the crazy dry suit diving gear any day.
Standing on the edge at The Latrabjarg cliffs
The Latrabjarg cliffs mark the westernmost point of the island. A little further out for most tourists making their way around the ring road, but a detour to this spot is worth it. The views of the ocean from dizzying heights atop these cliffs make a memorable experience. These cliffs are famous for bird watching in the summer, keep your eye out to catch a glimpse of the famous Puffin, a black and white sea-bird with a bright red/orange beak.
Soaking in Natural Hot springs aka Hot Pots
The picture says it all. Soaking in natural hot pools around the entire island is pure bliss. We drove all around the island in search of these steaming pools and made sure to soak our cold tired feet in many of these hidden gems. Blog post on our favorite hot pots coming soon.
Getting almost blown away on the Coastal Hike from Hellnar to Arnarstapi
A beautiful coastal hike not to far from Reykjavik in the Snaefellsnes peninsula is a must do. We love this hike as it takes you through mossy lava fields, stunning cliff formations, and quiet charming harbors. We started our 2.5 km short hike from Hotel Hellnar to the port of Arnarstapi. Gear up for the hike as it can get fairly windy. We hiked in 70km/hour winds which was an experience in itself.
Screaming our lungs out at the most powerful waterfall in Europe – Dettifoss
These falls give Niagara falls a run for its beauty. You can hear the roar of the falls from the highway, there is nothing I can say or write that can describe the feeling of standing on the edge of these falls and screaming your lungs out. It just has to be experienced!
Is this Mars? Marveling the arid and alien landscapes of Lake Myvtan area
Bubbling mud pots, steaming sulfur vents, ashy volcanic craters, milky blue crater lakes, lava rock gardens, and mossy pseudocraters in lakes are just some of the reasons to visit this area. The landscapes here are undoubtedly the most unique in the world.
The geothermal cave of Grjotagja on the top left in the picture above is a natural hot pool where the famous steamy (pun intended) love scene between Jon Snow and the Wildling, Ygritte took place in the popular Game of Thrones show. For all you GOT fans out there….I touched the water in which Jon Snow took a bath 😛 It’s a big deal, a very big deal!!
Exploring black sand beaches and riding the famous Icelandic horse
The black sand beach of Reynisfjara in South Iceland has unique basalt column formations that look like a pyramid of staggered steps. The black sand beaches stretch along the southern coast and make a stunning spot for some much-needed Icelandic horse riding. Spending time with these beautiful horses at the stable in the village nearby was a memorable experience.
Watching a beautiful sunset behind the towering basalt rock formations aka frozen trolls, as I like to call them is a great way to end the day. According to legend, the Reynisdrangar needles are the remains of 2 night-trolls, who tried to bring a three-masted ship to shore. But in their efforts they lost sight of dawn and turned to stone when daylight broke. Another reason I love Iceland….all the folklore and stories 🙂
Glacier hiking in Skaftafell National Park
Walking on frozen seas of glacial wonderland is successfully checked off our bucket list. If you’re short on time, an easy 2 hour hike in the Skaftafell area is your best bet. There are a bunch of different glacier hiking experiences to choose from – from easy 2 hour strolls to all day and multi day adventures. Popular adventure companies like Icelandic Mountain guides and Arctic Adventures have a bunch of exciting options to choose from, for adventurers of every level.
Witnessing the jaw dropping beauty of Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
My jaw just dropped at the first sight of these floating icebergs. Scenes from the movie Titanic quickly bombarded my brain as I tried to soak in all the beauty that was before my eyes…don’t judge me! If you’re looking at an iceberg for the very first time, I guarantee you will think of Titanic, or at least now you will :P.
Sleeping beneath the northern lights
Look up! Look up…The sky has come alive with swirling neon lights, dancing; almost bragging of its infinite beauty. I would look up every night in the hope to see the majestic northern lights. This was one of the main reasons we chose to travel in September rather than July-August (peak season) as the chances to see the lights would be better and the weather reasonable. We were lucky to catch the lights 3 nights in a row in the Westfjords. It is the most spectacular sight I have ever seen or experienced.
Watching ribbons of neon lights dance and swirl above you among the stars just makes you appreciate our planet more than ever. Nature can transcend all perceptions of beauty and being in Iceland definitely has that effect. If you are looking to escape the chaotic city life, and slow down a little. Pack your bags, and head over to Iceland to experience nature at its very best – fierce, volatile, raw, beautiful and above all MAGICAL!
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