Located at the edge of the Arctic Circle and in one of the most active volcanic spots in the world, Iceland is a breathtaking combination of hot springs and ice glaciers. Its picturesque scenery continues to attract tourists from all over the world.
Although not yet as popular as other European countries, Iceland does not disappoint. In fact, it has its own share of spectacular views and breathtaking scenery you wouldn’t find elsewhere. For those of you who wants to visit Iceland but don't know where to start, here are my top 5 tourist attractions in Iceland.
The famous Blue Lagoon in Iceland might seem like a natural wonder, but it is actually man-made. But that doesn’t make it any less special! In fact, the Blue Lagoon is one of most amazing hotel pools in the world at present.
A fortunate by-product of the nearby Svartsengi power plant, the Blue Lagoon might be the only place on earth where you can swim in 40-degree-centigrade water all-year-round. Even during the colder months, the water in Blue Lagoon remains warm and comfortable.
Blue Lagoon might just be one of the most photographed attractions in Iceland – and for good reason! Although the water in the lagoon is actually milky-white, the water appears a striking aquamarine. This vibrant color set against the bleak and plain landscape makes Blue Lagoon appears almost magical.
This attraction is run like a day spa and features a variety of services. Amenities include accommodations, saunas, restaurants, cafes, and showers. Access to the Blue Lagoon is not free and you have to pay €35 for the standard package, but, trust me, it is well worth it.
For €35, you get access to a locker, as well as the lagoon, shower, and sauna. You also get as much silica mud as you want to slather on your body.
No visit to Iceland is complete without seeing its many geysers. The most famous of these geysers is the Great Geysir, which can spurt boiling water up to 70 meters in the air. Situated in the Golden Circle, the Great Geysir is located near a number of smaller geysers, waterfalls, and other natural wonders.
Although Iceland has no shortage of geysers, the Great Geysir is easily the most impressive of them all. In addition to its sheer size, this geyser has also been active for almost 10,000 years. If you want to see more geyser eruptions, however, you would have to visit Strokkur, a nearby and smaller geyser.
For the complete Great Geyser experience, I highly suggest that you make a quick visit to its nearby attractions, which is part of the reason behind this site’s immense popularity. If you have the time, don’t miss the opportunity to see Hveragerdi greenhouse village and Nesjavellir geothermal power plant.
The term “Geysir” actually pertains only to this particular site, but the Great Geysir was so famous that the term “geyser” was adopted to refer to all similar attractions.
Lake Myvatn was established as a conservation area in 1974. Since then, this site has become one of the most tourist attractions in Iceland. Lake Myvatn is the fourth largest lake in Iceland. It was created in a basaltic lava eruption roughly 2,300 years ago.
Given the lake’s origins, it’s not surprising to find numerous lava formations in the area. Particularly astonishing are the lava pillars by Lake Myvatn. Nearby, one can also find several other lakes, which are smaller in size but equally stunning.
In addition to the picture-perfect Lake Myvatn itself, this site is also popular because of its surrounding attractions. Located in the same area is Goðafoss Falls, dubbed as the Waterfall of the Gods. This astonishing waterfall is imposing and ethereal, making it the most famous waterfall in Europe.
Being a conservation area for several decades already, it’s no wonder that Lake Myvatn and its surrounding area teems with wildlife. Birds, in particular, have found solace in the area surrounding Lake Myvatn. The numerous bird species flocking to this site continue to attract avid bird-watchers.
With lava fields on one side and lush pastures on the other, Lake Mysvatn is a sight to behold. While there, feel free to soak up the beautiful sight and don’t forget to drop by Hveraströnd Sulphur Springs, Krafla Caldera, and Mývatn Nature Baths.
If you want to be mesmerized by a waterfall, then Gulfoss is the place to see. Easily Iceland’s most famous waterfall, its name literally translates to “Golden Falls”. A visit to this famous waterfall would immediately tell you how it earned its moniker.
The water falling down Gullfoss originates from a glacial lake nearby. Since glacial water often carries sediments, the water appears more brownish than white. In the case of Gullfoss, the water tumbling down its three-step staircase into its 32-meter-deep crevice appears golden on a sunny day.
Gullfoss is iconic for several reasons. For one, its golden water is unlike any other falls. Also, this waterfall offers a spectacular view of the forces and beauty of untouched nature. Conveniently part of the Golden Circle tour, Gullfoss is located near other tourist attractions.
But more than just the beautiful scenery, this waterfall is truly symbolic. In the early 20th century, foreign investors wanted to buy the waterfall to harness its hydroelectric power. However, Sigríður Tómasdótti, daughter of the owner of Gullfoss, vehemently objected to the idea.
As a protest, she went barefoot and marched from Gullfoss to Reykjavik. Her dedication moved the people and the power plant was never built. In 1979, the waterfall was permanently designated as a nature reserve.
Since Iceland is located in a very active volcanic spot, its landscape is very unique. There are several lava tubes in the country. The most famous one is Raufarholshellir. This particular lava tube is situated along the road, easily accessible, and free of charge.
Anyone can go inside the cave, but the terrain is quite tricky if you’re not used to physical activities. If you’re not used to exploring caves, there’s no need to worry. There are organized guided tours which you can join.
Raufarholshellir is estimated to be around 1360 meters long. It has four entrances, all of which are within easy reach of each other. Towards the back section, the cave forks into three channels. There, one can see spectacular lava formations as well as lava falls.
There are also large chambers inside the Raufarholshellir lava tube. Some of these chambers are among the largest in Iceland, rivaled only by those in Surtshellir and Vidgelmir. Regardless of whether you are a pro or a newbie in trekking caves, exploring this lava tube is certainly an exciting journey.
Note, however, that while group tours are organized all year round, it is not advisable to visit Raufarholshellir by yourself in winter if you don’t have experience in trekking. During the colder months, the formations are coated in a thin sheet of ice, making the path extremely slippery.
Bear in mind, as well, that some parts of the tunnel can be pitch dark. Make sure to bring a flashlight with you.
No matter how many countries you’ve visited in the past, Iceland is guaranteed to still take your breath away. With its unique terrain and astounding natural attractions, this country is easily one of the most picturesque travel destinations in the world.
As with the rest of Europe, the price of living in Iceland is quite expensive. After exploring the country, however, you will surely find that it’s well worth the money.
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