Amazing Things To Do in Iceland
Iceland is a mysterious place, unlike anywhere else in the world. Since the day it was discovered by the Norse explorer Hrafna-Floki in the age of Vikings, Iceland has long been a place of vivid contrast. The freezing waters and towering glaciers counteracted by steamy, smoldering volcanos. Beautiful scenery, historical attractions, towering mountains, and world-class restaurants are just a few reasons to visit this spectacular country and experience its contradictions for yourself.
Your inner explorer is calling, and it’s pushing you to see first-hand all that Iceland has to offer. One remarkable experience would be to visit the legendary ice caves throughout the country. Handcrafted tours can be designed, in some cases lasting several days, to explore glacial caves, climb upon majestic Iceland glacier surfaces, and, to top it all off, if the season is right, immerse yourself in the beauty of the Northern Lights, otherwise known as the Aurora Borealis. The best time to see them is between September and early April when there is more darkness than light during the day.
Another adventurous way to see Iceland would be to explore their unbelievable National Parks. Skaftafell is a vast National Park, massive volcanos, and towering waterfalls upon cliffs made from the iconic hexagonal basalt rock towers.
Iceland’s natural wonders span the entire island. One of its more extraordinary waterfalls is Gullfoss Falls. Over 100 feet tall, Gullfoss cascades through a lush, green area surrounding a steep canyon. The falls have several layers and drop-offs and it is one of the widest waterfalls in the country.
In the center of the island, is Geysir, a large, natural hot-spring geyser, shooting boiling water many meters into the air, several times a day. Combine this view with the mesmerizing Aurora Borealis, and you get an experience that cannot be replicated anywhere else in the world.
If being on the water excites you, don’t miss the opportunity to go whale-watching. Year-round, boat tours take travelers out to the open sea to spot whales, some of the most unlikely, yet incredible, mammals to exist. Many of the trips combine whale-watching with a natural landmark tour, including a chance to explore some of the lava tube caves; remnants of the enormous forces that birthed this incredible volcanic island.
Restaurants and City Life
Balance your exploration of Iceland’s wild beauty with some culture! Add authentic dining experiences and Reykjavik nightlife to your itinerary. Despite being relatively small for a nation’s capital, and the country’s largest city, with roughly 122,000 people, Reykjavik has a fun and exhilarating nightlife.
The most prominent and well-known bars in Reykjavik would be Kaffibarrin, the Lebowski Bar, or possibly Micro Bar, each located only a few minutes from each other in the heart of the city. They each host a casual atmosphere but are upscale enough that you may consider wearing a nice button-down shirt. They are clean, cozy settings, sure to be high spots in a fun night of chatting of drinking.
Similarly located in downtown Reykjavik, Grillmarkaðurinn is a higher-end grill with a great variety of succulent steaks, delicious roasted chicken, and decadent desserts, just to name a few items on their extensive menu. What it lacks in pronounceability it more than makes up for in its ability to provide you with a wonderfully filling meal.
Best Souvenirs from Iceland
There’s no way you can travel all the way to exotic Iceland without bringing back a little piece of it to share and remember the adventure. Don’t waste the space in your luggage on un-needed trinkets, though; there are plenty of exciting and useful things to buy and bring home.
Wool is a significant material in Iceland. It keeps you warm, insulated and is one of the most widely available textiles. Buy an iconic wool blanket, scarf, jacket, sweatshirt, or any other wool item with the signature Icelandic style about it.
An actual physical part of Iceland that can be brought home is the volcanic rock that makes up the island. Carved stones and jewelry incorporating volcanic rock into them are practical and pretty items that can be worn on a daily basis and always remind you of Icelandic adventure. Just be sure to respect the land and not pick up any rocks from the ground in National Parks.
For a taste of Iceland back at home, try getting a bottle of their signature liquor, Brennivin. It has a distinct flavor and is considered an un-sweetened schnapps, making it much easier to drink along-side most meals. If you’d rather have something you can munch on, grab a package of Ris Buff. This Icelandic treat is a candy that’s been coated in a light layer of chocolate and corn puffs.
Other Exciting Activities
Yes, we already went over which adventurous activities are available in Iceland, but those are the mainstream tourist attractions. As exciting as these are, some people prefer to go off the beaten path. Luckily, there are some fun things you can plan on doing that give you a chance to get a deeper insight into Iceland.
Typically, when you think of snorkeling, the idea of tropical reefs and warm waters may come to mind. But does it surprise you to know that the frigid and half-frozen waters off the coast of Iceland are also home to great snorkeling spots? If you love the sea, throw on a thick wetsuit, a diving hood, and some insulating diving shoes and join one of the many tours that let you view the hidden underwater rock formations and local fish.
A few other great activities you might enjoy include viewing a professional handball match, which is the official sport of Iceland. They make, what seems like a simple game, look incredibly challenging. And, there are Jeep touring companies that will take you into the rugged heartland in durable off-road vehicles.
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Iceland Fast Facts
Currency: Icelandic króna
Top 10 things to see:
- Gullfoss Waterfall
- Aurora Borealis
- Blue Lagoon, Grindavík
- Skaftafell Ice Cave
- Kirkjufell Mountain
- Maelifell Volcano
- Whale Watching