There is so many places to travel.
Iceland is a stunning destination that offers a variety of experiences for travelers of all kinds. Whether you are looking for natural wonders, cultural attractions, or gastronomic delights, you will find something to suit your taste in this Nordic island nation. Here are some suggestions on where to go, what to eat, and where to stay in Iceland.
Where to go in Iceland
Iceland has many places to visit, depending on your interests and preferences. Here are some of the most popular and recommended destinations:
- Reykjavik: The capital and largest city of Iceland is a vibrant and cosmopolitan place that has plenty of cultural and historical attractions, as well as a lively nightlife and dining scene. You can visit landmarks such as the Hallgrimskirkja church, the Harpa concert hall, and the Perlan museum, or enjoy whale and puffin watching tours in the nearby Faxafloi bay. Reykjavik is also a great base for exploring the Golden Circle, a sightseeing route that includes Thingvellir National Park, Geysir geothermal area, and Gullfoss waterfall1.
- South Coast: The south coast of Iceland is a scenic and diverse region that boasts some of the country’s most famous natural attractions, such as Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls, the black sand beach of Reynisfjara, and the glaciers of Skaftafell and Jokulsarlon. You can also witness the majestic volcanoes of Eyjafjallajokull and Katla, or visit the charming villages of Vik and Kirkjubaejarklaustur2.
- Akureyri: The second largest city in Iceland is located in the north of the country, surrounded by mountains and fjords. Akureyri is a cultural and artistic hub that hosts various festivals and events throughout the year, such as the Akureyri Art Festival and the Akureyri Winter Festival. You can also explore the nearby attractions, such as the Godafoss waterfall, the Lake Myvatn area, and the Husavik whale watching center3.
- Westfjords: The Westfjords are a remote and rugged region in the northwest of Iceland, where you can experience the wild and unspoiled nature of the country. The Westfjords are home to some of the most dramatic landscapes in Iceland, such as the Hornstrandir nature reserve, the Latrabjarg bird cliffs, and the Dynjandi waterfall. You can also enjoy activities such as hiking, kayaking, fishing, and hot spring bathing4.
What to eat in Iceland
Icelandic cuisine is influenced by its location and history, featuring fresh and local ingredients such as fish, lamb, dairy products, and berries. Some of the traditional dishes are based on preserving methods such as smoking, salting, pickling, or fermenting. However, you can also find modern and international influences in many restaurants and cafes. Here are some of the best things to eat in Iceland:
- Skyr: This is a thick and creamy dairy product that resembles yogurt but is technically a cheese. Skyr is high in protein and low in fat, and can be eaten plain or with toppings such as sugar, honey, berries, or granola. Skyr is also used in desserts such as cheesecake or ice cream5.
- Lamb: Lamb is one of the most common meats in Iceland, as sheep have been raised here for centuries. Icelandic lamb is tender and flavorful, thanks to the natural grazing on grass and herbs. You can find lamb dishes such as roast lamb with potatoes and gravy, lamb soup with vegetables and herbs, or smoked lamb on flatbread6.
- Seafood: Iceland is surrounded by rich fishing grounds that provide a variety of seafood options for locals and visitors alike. You can enjoy fish such as cod, haddock, halibut, salmon, trout, or arctic char, or shellfish such as lobster, shrimp, scallops, mussels, or oysters. You can also try some more exotic seafood such as whale meat (minke whale), puffin (a type of seabird), or hakarl (fermented shark)5.
- Rye bread: Rye bread is a staple in Icelandic cuisine that has been baked for centuries. Rye bread is dense and dark in color, with a slightly sweet taste. It can be eaten plain or with butter or cheese. One of the most interesting ways to make rye bread is by burying it in hot springs or geothermal areas for several hours or days6.
Where to stay in Iceland
Iceland has a wide range of accommodation options for travelers of different budgets and preferences. You can choose from hotels (from budget to luxury), guesthouses (from cozy to modern), hostels (from basic to trendy), cottages (from rustic to chic), campsites (from simple to equipped), or even farm stays (from traditional to eco-friendly). Here are some of the best places to stay in Iceland:
- Hilton Reykjavik Nordica: This is a four-star hotel in Reykjavik that offers comfortable and spacious rooms, a fitness center, a spa, and a restaurant with panoramic city views. The hotel is located 10 minutes from the city center and close to attractions such as the Laugardalur park and the Botanical Garden7.
- Reykjavik Marina – Berjaya Iceland Hotels: This is a four-star hotel in Reykjavik that combines modern design with maritime elements. The hotel features colorful and quirky rooms, a cafe-bar, a library, and a cinema. The hotel is located in the old harbor area, near the Harpa concert hall and the Reykjavik Maritime Museum8.
- House of the Snowbird: This is a charming and traditional house in Reykjavik that offers one-bedroom apartments with kitchenettes, living rooms, and private bathrooms. The house is located in the historic center of Reykjavik, near attractions such as the Hallgrimskirkja church and the National Museum9.
- Kex Hostel: This is a trendy and stylish hostel in Reykjavik that offers dorms or private rooms with shared or private bathrooms. The hostel features a cafe-bar, live gigs, a gym, and a barber shop. The hostel is located in an old biscuit factory, near the waterfront and the city center6.
- Stracta Hotel: This is a three-star hotel in Hella, a town on the south coast of Iceland. The hotel offers modern and cozy rooms, studios, or cottages, with access to hot tubs and saunas. The hotel also has a restaurant, a bar, and a terrace. The hotel is located near attractions such as the Seljalandsfoss waterfall and the Thorsmork valley10.
- Hotel Ranga: This is a four-star hotel in Hella, a town on the south coast of Iceland. The hotel offers luxurious and themed rooms, with views of the river or the mountains. The hotel also has a restaurant, a bar, and an observatory for stargazing and northern lights viewing. The hotel is located near attractions such as the Skogafoss waterfall and the Eyjafjallajokull volcano10.
- Hotel Kea: This is a four-star hotel in Akureyri, the second largest city in Iceland. The hotel offers elegant and comfortable rooms, with views of the city or the fjord. The hotel also has a restaurant, a bar, and a conference center. The hotel is located in the heart of Akureyri, near attractions such as the Akureyri Church and the Akureyri Art Museum3.
- Icelandair Hotel Akureyri: This is a three-star hotel in Akureyri, the second largest city in Iceland. The hotel offers bright and modern rooms, with views of the city or the mountains. The hotel also has a restaurant, a bar, and a fitness center. The hotel is located near attractions such as the Botanical Garden and the Hlidarfjall ski resort3.
- Hotel Horn: This is a three-star hotel in Isafjordur, the largest town in the Westfjords region of Iceland. The hotel offers cozy and simple rooms, with views of the town or the harbor. The hotel also has a restaurant, a bar, and a lounge. The hotel is located near attractions such as the Westfjords Heritage Museum and the Vigur Island4.
- Hotel Latrabjarg: This is a two-star hotel in Patreksfjordur, a village in the Westfjords region of Iceland. The hotel offers basic but clean rooms, with shared or private bathrooms. The hotel also has a restaurant, a bar, and a terrace. The hotel is located near attractions such as the Latrabjarg bird cliffs and the Raudasandur beach4.
Highlights of Iceland
Iceland is a beautiful country with many scenic attractions to explore. Here are some of the must-see places in Iceland that I recommend:
- Thingvellir National Park: This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site where you can see the rift between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. It is also the site of the world’s first parliament, established in 930 AD. You can walk along the trails, admire the waterfalls and lakes, and even snorkel or dive in the clear waters of Silfra fissure1.
- Geysir Geothermal Area: This is where you can witness the power of nature as hot springs erupt into the air. The most famous one is Strokkur, which spouts water up to 30 meters high every few minutes. You can also see colorful pools, mud pots, and steam vents1.
- Gullfoss Waterfall: This is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland, where the Hvita river plunges into a deep canyon in two stages. You can view the waterfall from different angles and feel the spray of water on your face. On sunny days, you might even see a rainbow over the falls1.
- Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach: This is a stunning beach with black volcanic sand and basalt columns. You can also see the Reynisdrangar sea stacks, which are said to be trolls turned to stone by the sunlight. Be careful of the powerful waves and don’t go too close to the water2.
- Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon: This is a glacial lake where you can see icebergs floating on the blue water. The icebergs come from the Breidamerkurjokull glacier, which is part of the Vatnajokull National Park. You can take a boat tour to get closer to the icebergs or walk along the shore and watch the seals2.
- Skaftafell Nature Reserve: This is a part of the Vatnajokull National Park, where you can enjoy various hiking trails and scenic views. One of the highlights is Svartifoss, a waterfall surrounded by black basalt columns. You can also see glaciers, mountains, and wildflowers2.
Geo-thermal Pools in Iceland.
If you are looking for a relaxing and rejuvenating experience in Iceland, you should definitely try swimming in the hot pools. Iceland is blessed with abundant geothermal energy, which creates natural hot springs and pools all over the island. These pools are not only warm and soothing, but also rich in minerals that can benefit your health and well-being.
There are many types of hot pools in Iceland, from natural hot springs in remote locations to modern geothermal spas with luxurious facilities. You can find hot pools in every region of Iceland, each with its own unique charm and scenery. Here are some of the best hot pools in Iceland that you should not miss:
- Blue Lagoon: This is the most famous and popular hot pool in Iceland, located near the Keflavík airport. The blue lagoon is a man-made pool filled with geothermal seawater that has a milky blue color and a temperature of around 38°C (100°F). The water contains silica, algae, and minerals that can help to nourish your skin and hair. You can also enjoy various treatments and massages at the spa, or sip a drink at the swim-up bar. The blue lagoon is open all year round, and you can book your tickets online in advance1.
- Sky Lagoon: This is a new geothermal spa that opened in 2021, located on the outskirts of Reykjavík. The sky lagoon offers a stunning view of the Atlantic Ocean and the mountains, especially during sunset and sunrise. The pool has a 70-meter (230-foot) infinity edge that creates an illusion of blending with the sea. The water temperature is around 38-40°C (100-104°F), and there are also saunas, steam rooms, cold plunge pools, and relaxation areas. The sky lagoon also features a seven-step ritual that combines different elements of Icelandic bathing culture2.
- Laugarvatn Fontana: This is a geothermal spa located on the shores of Lake Laugarvatn, about an hour’s drive from Reykjavík. The spa has three outdoor pools with different temperatures, ranging from 36-40°C (97-104°F). There are also steam rooms that are built over natural hot springs, where you can hear the bubbling water below. You can also dip into the lake for a refreshing contrast, or enjoy a traditional Icelandic rye bread that is baked in the geothermal sand3.
- Seljavallalaug: This is one of the oldest swimming pools in Iceland, built in 1923. It is located in a secluded valley near the south coast, surrounded by mountains and a waterfall. The pool is filled with natural hot water that comes from a nearby spring, and has a temperature of around 30-35°C (86-95°F). The pool is about 25 meters (82 feet) long and 10 meters (33 feet) wide, and has changing rooms and showers. However, there is no entrance fee or staff, so you need to be respectful and responsible when using the facilities4.
- Grjótagjá: This is a small cave with a natural hot spring inside, located near Lake Mývatn in the north of Iceland. The cave was once a popular bathing spot for locals, but became too hot after volcanic eruptions in the 1970s. However, the temperature has since cooled down to around 43°C (109°F), which is still very hot but manageable for some people. The cave has a mystical atmosphere and a beautiful blue water that reflects the light from the opening. You may also recognize it as one of the filming locations for Game of Thrones.
These are just some of the amazing hot pools in Iceland that you can enjoy during your trip. Swimming in the hot pools is not only relaxing and fun, but also good for your health and mood. It is also a great way to experience the Icelandic culture and nature, as you mingle with locals and admire the stunning views. So don’t hesitate to pack your swimsuit and towel, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure in Iceland!
Iceland is a fascinating country with a rich and diverse culture that spans more than a thousand years. Here are some interesting facts about the people who live there and their way of life.
- Icelanders are proud of their language, which is a direct descendant of Old Norse, the language of the Vikings who settled the island in the 9th and 10th centuries. Icelanders still use the same alphabet as the ancient Norse, with some additional letters. They also preserve many old words and expressions that have disappeared from other modern languages. Icelanders are avid readers and writers, and have produced many literary works, especially the sagas, which are epic stories of heroes and adventures that took place during the settlement period1.
- Icelanders are also very creative and artistic, with a strong tradition of crafts such as weaving, silversmithing, and wood carving. They have a vibrant music scene, with genres ranging from folk to pop to metal. Some of the most famous Icelandic musicians include Björk, Sigur Rós, and Of Monsters and Men. Icelanders also love theater, cinema, and art, and have many festivals and events throughout the year to celebrate their culture. Reykjavík, the capital city, is home to several professional theaters, art galleries, bookstores, cinemas and museums1.
- Icelanders are adventurous and resilient, living in a land of contrasts and extremes. They have to cope with harsh winters, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and geysers. They also enjoy the benefits of their unique geography, such as hot springs, glaciers, waterfalls, and the northern lights. Icelanders are very environmentally conscious and use renewable energy sources such as geothermal and hydroelectric power to heat their homes and buildings. They also have a high standard of living and a strong social welfare system2.
- Icelanders are friendly and hospitable, with a sense of humor and a love of storytelling. They are very independent and egalitarian, with a high regard for human rights and democracy. They have one of the oldest parliaments in the world, dating back to 930 AD2. They also have a strong focus on feminism and gender equality, with women playing prominent roles in politics, business, education, and culture3. Icelanders are very open-minded and tolerant of different beliefs and lifestyles3.
- Icelanders have many hobbies and pastimes that reflect their culture and interests. Some of the most popular ones include hiking, skiing, fishing, horse riding, swimming, knitting, chess, soccer, handball, golf, and chess3. Icelanders also have some unique traditions and customs that mark their calendar year. Some of these include Bondadagur (Husband’s Day), Konudagur (Women’s Day), Thorrablot (Midwinter Feast), Twelfth Night (Last Day of Christmas), Sumardagurinn Fyrsti (First Day of Summer), Verslunarmannahelgi (Merchants’ Weekend), Menningarnótt (Culture Night), Jólabókaflóð (Christmas Book Flood), Þrettándinn (Thirteenth Night), and many more4.
Iceland is a country that offers a lot to explore and discover for anyone who is interested in its culture. It is a place where ancient traditions meet modern innovations, where nature meets art, where adventure meets comfort, where diversity meets harmony. It is a place where you can experience the magic of Iceland.