Being the nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts that we are, it seems impossible that epic Iceland has not yet moved from our travel wish list to our list of favorite destinations. However, if we have our way that will soon change. We are currently in Europe and will be heading to North America in a couple of months and it just so happens that Iceland makes a perfect stopover between the two continents. In fact, Icelandair even offers stopovers in Iceland at no additional charge.
After reading every article we can find, listening enviously to countless stories from fellow travelers and staring longingly at stunning photography of this amazing country we have no doubt that Iceland belongs on everyone’s travel bucket list.
Reasons for Planning a Trip to Iceland
For us, immersing in nature has to be our #1 reason for wanting to visit Iceland. This North Atlantic “Land of Ice and Fire” is absolutely overflowing with Mother Nature’s wonders. Plus, unlike many other nature filled countries, the big players, such as volcanoes and glaciers, are fairly easily accessible. Touring Jökulsárlón glacial lake and Thrihnukagigur volcano top our wish list as does exploring the national parks, trekking along the many trails and hiking the rugged mountains that fill this nature loving country.
I would personally love to be in Iceland between June 20th and 22nd for summer solstice. I can’t think of a more magical place to celebrate the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. But really, anytime between mid-May and late July in Iceland will give you bright nights with midnight sun, allowing for hours of extra exploration. It is said that the long hours of daylight can interfere with sleep patterns, but who cares when there is so much to see and do during an epic Iceland summer?
As much as we love nature we also enjoy some city time and although small, Reykjavik appears to offer everything a good city should. Words like ‘trendy’ and ‘cool’ are used when people describe this very northern hemisphere city as well as ‘forward-thinking’ and ‘open-minded’, all terms that we look for when ranking a city on our bucket list. Plus what is a city break without great food, good nightlife, entertainment and fun loving people? There are so many things to do in Reykjavik that check all those boxes and more.
The aurora borealis, aka northern lights, is an incredible natural phenomenon that creates dancing green lights in the night sky and Iceland is one of the best places in the world to view them. If the real thing is even close to the thousands of images we’ve oohed and ahhed over it will be an experience of a lifetime. Unfortunately this magnificent celestial show is best witnessed between September and April which means literally a night and day choice must be made. So what is the solution? Plan two trips to Iceland! Just make sure you pack appropriately for Iceland’s seasons.
Puffins, Horses and Whales…Oh My
Animal lovers, like ourselves, seem in for a treat when visiting Iceland. With over twenty species of whales living in the surrounding ocean there is no better place in Europe to catch a photo of these magnificent creatures. Between May and September the cute and colorful Puffins come home to breed and can be spotted perched on the rugged cliffs. Then there’s the small but hardy Icelandic horses who apparently have their own special gait called a ‘tolt.’ These adorable animals were brought over by the first Viking settlers and have been a big tourist attraction for decades. Of course, these are just three examples of the domestic and wild animals in Iceland.
Not only does Iceland offer some of the best drinking water in the world but they also have an abundance of liquid beauty and activities. Geothermal springs have produced idyllic pools for soaking in, like the famed Blue Lagoon or the quieter, more natural pools in Landmannalaugar. Then there’s the spectacular waterfalls like Gullfoss and Háifoss which are sure to impress any waterfall chaser. You can even swim between continents through the Silfra Fissure in Thingvellir National Park (don’t worry you will be given a special dry suit so you don’t freeze.)
We love road trips and the combination of Iceland’s stunning beauty and quiet, well-maintained roads make it a winner for this type of touring. The Golden Circle is the most popular route with its gorgeous waterfalls, geysers and the historic and fascinating landscape of Thingvellir. But this country is brimming with such incredible nature that there’s likely not a road not worth travelling. In fact, why not take it a step further and hire a Cozy Camper and skip the standard hotels. Of course, with the harsh winters this is definitely a summer activity.
Fairy Tale Folklore
I’m a sucker for legends and myths and the Icelandic folklore has me enchanted. Tales of giants, trolls, elves and rocks coming to life are deeply embedded into Iceland’s culture and are sure to be spun by local guides. Apparently the Huldufólk are everywhere, hiding in rocks and waterfalls and in some cases even frozen into strange land formations and grassy mounds. Personally, I plan to be very respectful of these folkloric creatures.
Have you been or are you planning a trip to Iceland? We would love to hear about your experience and you can be sure that we will be filling pages with our own very soon!
Born in England, Sarah developed her wanderlust at a young age as she traveled around Europe with her parents. As a young adult she spent every penny she could on experiences as opposed to possessions. Eventually she found a way to earn a living doing what she loved: traveling, writing and capturing images of the wondrous world we live in. When not on the go Sarah enjoys time in her “sometimes home” of Vancouver.