One of the countries on my bucket list is Iceland. Ever since I saw the stunning pictures from the Blue Lagoon or hearing stories about people touring the Golden Circle, I wanted to go to this land of fire and ice. But what is there actually to do and see in Iceland?
Guide to Iceland asked me to share my Iceland dreams with you, so this weekend I thought I'd do a bit of research on when is the best time to visit Iceland and list up all the things that I would like to do and see.
The Iceland Must do's
There are a list of the things that you just can't not do if you go to Iceland, it's the stuff that dreams are made of and the sites that every visitor of Iceland has on his to-do list.
Golden Circle tour
The golden circle tour is a famous day trip that you can easily do from Reykjavik with a guided tour or with a self-drive tour. The tour takes in three popular landmarks, all within 100km of the capital and so it's convenient if you don't have much time to go on a longer expedition around the country. On this trip, you’ll see the Gullfoss waterfall, Haukadalur with the famous Geysir and Strokkur geysers, and the continental rift at Þingvellir National Park.
Þingvellir is where the North American & Eurasian tectonic plates are slowly splitting apart from each other, creating a cracked-up landscape. In one of these cracks, called Silfra, it's also possible to go snorkeling or scuba diving. Certainly one of my must do's!
The Blue lagoon
While I always try to visit the less commercial places, I can't really skip the blue lagoon I guess. Even though it might be crowded, it's still one of the key attractions in Iceland that I can't miss out on. And be honest, if you look at that picture, wouldn't you want to see this?
The Blue Lagoon consist of a large number of hot water pools in the middle of a magnificent black-lava field. The thermal heated water, at a perfect 38°C, is rich in blue-green algae and mineral salts which make it perfect for taking gorgeous pictures and enjoying a relaxing day at the spa.
Northern Lights in Iceland
As a travel photographer, one of the most awesome thing to photograph would be the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights. While lot's of people go to Scandinavia to see them, you can also see the Northern Lights in Iceland.
The best season to see the northern lights in Iceland is from September to mid-April, preferably on a cold day with a clear dark sky.
Spotting puffins in Iceland
Besides Skellig Michael, an island in the west part of Ireland, the only place I know of where you can spot the Atlantic puffin, is Iceland.
The Atlantic Puffin is a small, sturdy bird with a colourful beak that goes under the name „Lundi“ in Icelandic and has i.e. become an emblem for the Westman Islands archipelago.
Puffins spend the autumn and winter out at sea but return to land to breed in late spring, so this would mean that I need to visit somewhere between mid may and august to make sure I can get to see them!
When you have been travelling as long as me, you don't get so excited anymore when you see yet another waterfall. When I visited SouthEast Asia for the first time for example, every little waterfall got me excited as a little child, but after seeing the 100th waterfall in 2 weeks time, that excitement kind of died out a little bit 😉
However, I must admit that I couldn't stop to be a little bit excited when I found these beautiful photo's of some of the most famous waterfalls in Iceland. Definitely something to go on my list of things to do in Iceland!
So what would be the best period to visit Iceland?
Looking back at my research, I would need to visit Iceland at least 2 times:
- once in the spring or early summer, so I can combine my visit with the spotting of the Atlantic Puffer.
- and once in the fall/winter, to photograph the Northern Lights.
So, what do you think of my Iceland highlights?
Did I miss anything important? Let me know in the comments!