10 Things to do in Iceland: The Land of Fire and Ice

10 Things to do in Iceland: The Land of Fire and Ice

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Tourism in Iceland is growing rapidly thanks to some pretty expert marketing campaigns. After an economic crash in 2008, prices in Iceland plummeted, making it more affordable for visitors. That said, Iceland still isn’t cheap and you have to make sure to budget accordingly.  But once you’ve got some money saved up, I highly encourage you to head on over.  With non-stop flights just a few hours away from NYC, there’s really no excuse if you’re living on the East Coast of the USA.

Iceland is a land of adventure, midnight sun, northern lights, and gorgeous landscapes. It’s certainly easy to see why so many people fall in love with it after visiting. There are just so many things to do in Iceland it’s tough to decide!  Here are my top things to do in Iceland – enjoy!
Things to do in Iceland >> what you can't miss on this epic trip!

Things to do in Iceland

1. Visit Some Nature Baths. 

Nature baths are wildly popular with Icelanders and visitors alike, and why not? They’re warm, relaxing, and rejuvenating. Blue Lagoon and Myvatn Nature Baths are probably the two biggest in the country and definitely worth a visit. Also, if you want to schedule a massage at the Blue Lagoon, be sure to do so early as the spots book up quickly.  Note that many visitors choose to visit the Blue Lagoon on their way to or from the airport, as it’s not too far off.  It really is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that shouldn’t be missed in the country.
Things to do in Iceland >> what you can't miss on this epic trip!

2. Drive the Ring Road.

If you go to Iceland and don’t venture far outside of Reykjavik, you’re sorely missing out! Renting a car and driving the Ring Road offers so many different landscapes, so many incredible detours, and so many reasons to believe it really is the Isle of Awe Land.  With this national road encircling around the entire island and connecting many inhabited parts of the country, it’s best to leave quite some time for this.  You won’t want to be rushing through 825+ miles, that’s for sure!  The more days the better, but I recommend no less than 4 in order to really get an adequate amount of exploration time.

A few things not to miss: The Golden Circle, Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, Skógafoss Waterfall, Sólheimasandur Plane Crash, and the Jökulsárlón Iceberg Lagoon.  Much more to see, but these are some highlights.

Things to do in Iceland >> what you can't miss on this epic trip!

3. Go on a Glacier Walk.

Strap on some crampons, don a harness, and grab an ice pick for an epic time on the ice. Not much is cooler than hiking on ice that’s more than 1000m thick, peering down crevices, and wandering into ice caves.

4. Take a Whale Watching Tour.

Head out on the water for a few hours to try to catch a glimpse of whales off the coast of Iceland. If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll also get to see some puffins!  Take a look at those cuties below!  Such exotic and beautiful creatures!
Things to do in Iceland >> what you can't miss on this epic trip!
Things to do in Iceland >> what you can't miss on this epic trip!

5. Hike a Crater.

Hverfjall in the Myvatn region is roughly 2500 years old, 1km in diameter, and about 140m deep. There are two paths to hike up, both are about 420m high (the equivalent of walking up about 137 flights of stairs), and they’re pretty steep. Once you get to the top though, the expansive views are totally worth it.

6. See the Aurelia Borealis

More commonly known as the Northern Lights, this dramatic display in the sky will surely be something you’ll talk about for ages.  Guaranteed darkness is what you’ll need, and as long as you visit during the right time, the Aurelia Borealis will be visible in cities like Reykjavik and Tromso when the lights are at their strongest.  Be sure to visit from September to mid-April as the sky is at it’s absolute darkest.  If you’re lucky, the streetlights will be turned off for best viewing possible!  Many hotels in Iceland can give you recommendations on where to see these magical lights.
Wanting to photograph the lights?  You’ll need a tripod for sure.
Things to do in Iceland >> what you can't miss on this epic trip!

7. Eat Some Authentic Foods.

Iceland has no shortage of strange foods—hákarl (fermented shark), whale, puffin, and horse. Because of the influx of tourists, all of these foods are pretty easy to come by, especially in Reykjavik, shown below.  Don’t miss out on the hot dogs as well, a local speciality!

Things to do in Iceland >> what you can't miss on this epic trip!

Things to do in Iceland >> what you can't miss on this epic trip!

8. Take a Boat through the Glacier Lagoon.

Jökulsárlón is absolutely gorgeous and rather than just seeing it from the pebble beach, take a boat tour! You can purchase your tickets when you arrive and snap a few photos while waiting for the tour to begin. You’ll weave in and out of black and blue glaciers, and if you’re lucky, your tour guide will score a chunk of ice from the lagoon and break off some ice chips for you to taste.

9. See (and Maybe Scuba) Where Two Continental Plates Meet.

Þingvellir is a short drive from Reykjavik and is unique in that you can see where the North American and Eurasian Plates meet. If you want to do more than see from above, you can scuba or snorkel in the water as well.

10. Check Out the Sulfur Fields and Lunar Landscape.

Krafla and Namafjall area are some of the most unique (and smelly) landscapes you’ll ever encounter. It’s a geothermal area, complete with boiling mudpools and steam pumping out of fissure vents. You’ll quickly get used to the smell and be completely fascinated by what’s surrounding you.
Things to do in Iceland >> what you can't miss on this epic trip!

Recommended Tours:

If you’ve got your eye on the country, here are the top things to do in Iceland.  Have you been?!

* All photos courtesy of Tourism Iceland.

One Comment

  • amy L says:

    I am still here (beginning my 2nd week of 3 in Iceland.. currently in Akureyri, driving the Ring Rd before heading back to Reyk on the 8th/9th) and am already planning my return for summer 2016 !! So many wonderful things to see that I want to see them in both seasons

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