Iceland Activities, Day Trips, Tours, and Things To Do
Iceland, a Nordic island nation, is defined by its dramatic landscape with volcanoes, geysers, hot springs and lava fields. Iceland is a paradise for nature lovers, tops many bucket lists, and dazzles visitor to make them want to plan a return trip. There seems no end to the talents of this breathtaking northern destination. Massive glaciers are protected in Vatnajokull and Snaefellsjokull national parks. Most of the population lives in the capital, Reykjavik, which runs on geothermal power and is home to the National and Saga museums, tracing Iceland's Viking history.
Iceland is an underpopulated island marooned near the top of the globe, Iceland is, literally, a country in the making. It's a vast volcanic laboratory where mighty forces shape the earth: geysers gush, mudpots gloop, ice-covered volcanoes rumble and glaciers cut great pathways through the mountains. Its supercharged splendor seems designed to inspire awe in visitors. And it works like a charm: some crisp clean air, an eyeful of the cinematic landscapes, and everyone is transfixed.
In Iceland the mundane turns extraordinary. A dip in a pool becomes a soak in a geothermal lagoon; a casual stroll can transform into a trek across a glittering glacier; and a quiet night of camping may mean front-row seats to the aurora borealis' curtains of fire, or the soft, pinkish hue of the midnight sun. Because it is so close to the Arctic Circle, the amount of daylight varies dramatically by season. The sun sets briefly each night in June, but it doesn't get fully dark before it comes back up again. In the March and September equinoxes, days and nights are of about equal length, as elsewhere in the world. If you go in December, it's almost 20 hours of darkness. Summer is definitely the best time to go, for views of the midnight sun, which is a beautiful sight and one definitely not to be missed. Early or late winter, however, can be surprisingly good times to visit. In late January, daylight is from about 10:00-17:00, prices are lower than in the high season, and the snow-blanketed landscape is eerily beautiful, not to mention, this time of year is ideal for a chance at spotting the famous Northern Lights, which is one of the main reasons many make the journey to this stunning country.
Some of the biggest attractions in Iceland include: Pingvellir National Park Park and a UNESCO World Heritage site 30-50km east of Reykjavik: Not only is this the original site of the longest running parliament in the world, it's also where the North-American and European continental shelf plates are being torn apart; Vatnajokull National Park, Iceland's newest national park, was founded on 7 June 2008 and is Europe's largest national park, covering about 12 percent of the surface of Iceland. The park is home to Iceland's highest mountain, Hvannadalshnukur, largest glacier, Vatnajokull, and Europe's largest waterfall in terms of volume discharge, Dettifoss; Snaefellsjokull National Park on the tip of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in western Iceland is home to the ice-covered volcanic crater that was the setting for Jules Verne's book Journey to the Center of the Earth; the Blue Lagoon, a famous outdoor pool and health center. This geothermal spa in the middle of a lava field with its milky blue water is quite surreal; Gullfoss, The Golden Falls, on the edge of the inhospitable interior of Iceland about 100km east of Reykjavik, the river Hvita plunges down a double cascade to create what many people believe is the most beautiful waterfall in Iceland; Geysir Strokkur, a geothermal hot spot located 10km west of Gullfoss which erupts every five to ten minutes; the Jokulsarlon Lagoon, a majestic glacial lagoon in southeast Iceland whose glacier retreated very quickly from 1920 to 1965 leaving this breathtaking lagoon, which is up to 190 meters deep. Ice breaks off from the glacier keeping the lagoon stocked with icebergs all year round.
But don't think Iceland's only about the great outdoors. The counterpoint to so much natural beauty is found in Iceland's cultural life, which celebrates a literary legacy that stretches from medieval sagas to contemporary thrillers by way of Nobel Prize winners. Live music is everywhere, as is visual art, handicrafts and locavore cuisine. The world's most northerly capital is home to the kind of egalitarianism, green thinking and effortless style that its Nordic brethren are famous for - all of which is wrapped in Iceland's assured individuality.