From volcanic craters to geothermal lakes to green meadows and peaceful little towns, Iceland has many delights to explore. There are a few things that you just shouldn’t miss when you are visiting Iceland for the first time – experiences that are quintessential to this beautiful country.
Although Reykjavik is a cool city, don’t just spend all of your time there. Take the time to head out into the countryside and see some of the raw beauty of nature. Keep in mind the fact that the days are longer if you visit in the summer, so you will be able to do much more sightseeing than in the winter.
1. The Blue Lagoon
Just because it is cold outside, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t go for a swim. Swimming in the Blue Lagoon is like nowhere else in the world. It’s geothermally-warmed waters are milky blue, due to the sulphur minerals and rich silica within. The waters of the spa originate from 2,000 metres below the surface of the water, where seawater and freshwater combine. The spa itself has great facilities and is located within a lava field in the Reykjanes Peninsula in Southwestern Iceland.
It is thought that these minerals are beneficial to your health and they will leave your skin feeling soft and supple. Soaking in these soothing waters is an absolute must when you are in Iceland.
2. The Northern Lights
Seeing Aurora Borealis for the first time is an experience you will never forget. On a cold and clear winter night, you can watch the shimmering waves of blue, purple and green dance across the sky. They are a natural neon light show, always moving and changing and created by the earth’s atmosphere. Electrically charged particles from the sun collide with gas particles in the atmosphere, which creates the bright, dancing glow.
The best time of year to see the Northern Lights in Iceland is between September and March. This stunning phenomenon is unpredictable, so you are never guaranteed to see them. However, there are Aurora Forecasts you can follow which will give you hints for Aurora hunting.
3. The Great Geyser
One of the most impressive natural wonders of Iceland, the Great Geyser was active for over 10,000 years. It is called Geysir and it was the first geyser ever discovered – every other natural fountain of hot spring water spurting out of the ground is named after this one. When it was active it was a truly spectacular sight to see – the earth burbled and churned and then an enormous jet of steaming hot water spouted 70 metres into the air.
Although the Great Geysir is dormant at the moment, you can visit the nearby Strokkur which is another geyser 100 meters south. It erupts every 10 minutes or so and its column of boiling water can shoot a high as 30 meters. The entire area is fascinating to explore – with bubbling rock cauldrons, sulphurous pools and hot and cold springs.