Traveling to Iceland: A Guide for the Land of Fire and Ice

George Smith Jul 13, 2023
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iceland thermal spa
Table of Contents
  1. How to get to Iceland
  2. How to get around in Iceland
  3. What to see and do in Iceland

Iceland is a country that puts on one of the most dramatic natural spectacles on the planet. From rainbow-arched waterfalls to snowcapped mountains, from geysers and volcanoes to glaciers and fjords, Iceland has it all. If you are looking for a destination that will wow you with its beauty, diversity, and adventure, here are some tips on how to get around, things to do, and hidden gems in Iceland.

How to get to Iceland

There are two main ways to travel to Iceland: by airplane or by ferry. Airplane is the fastest and most convenient way, as you don’t need a visa, but you need a passport valid for at least three months. Most flights land at Keflavik airport, which is about 40 minutes from Reykjavik, the capital city. You can take a shuttle bus, a cab, or a domestic connection to other parts of Iceland. There are many airlines that fly to Iceland from various destinations in Europe and North America, such as Icelandair, WOW Air, EasyJet, Delta, and Air Canada.

If you want to bring your own car or enjoy a scenic sea voyage, you can take the Norröna ferry from Denmark. The ferry operates once a week and takes about two days to reach Seyðisfjörður, a town in eastern Iceland. From there, you can drive or take a bus to your desired destination. The ferry also allows you to visit the Faroe Islands on the way.

How to get around in Iceland

Once you are in Iceland, you have several options to explore the country. You can rent a car and drive along the Ring Road, which circles the island and connects most of the attractions. This will give you more freedom and flexibility, but also requires more responsibility and preparation, as some roads are unpaved, rough, or closed in winter. You also need to be aware of the weather conditions, speed limits, and gas stations. You can rent a car from various companies at the airport or in Reykjavik.

You can also take buses between the towns and cities, which are comfortable and reliable, but less frequent and more expensive. You can buy single tickets or passes for different routes and durations. There are also hop-on hop-off buses that allow you to stop at various attractions along the way. You can book your tickets online or at bus stations.

Another option is to join organized tours that include transportation, accommodation, and activities. This will save you time and hassle, but also limit your choices and spontaneity. There are many tour operators that offer different packages for different interests and budgets. You can choose from day trips to multi-day excursions, from sightseeing tours to adventure tours.

What to see and do in Iceland

Iceland offers a wealth of potential experiences and landscapes for every traveler. Here are some of the highlights that you should not miss:

  • Reykjavik: This is the capital and largest city of Iceland, home to half of the country’s population. It is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city that combines modern architecture with traditional culture. You can visit landmarks such as Hallgrímskirkja Church, Harpa Concert Hall, Perlan Museum, and Sun Voyager Sculpture. You can also enjoy its nightlife, shopping, dining, and art scene. Reykjavik is also a base for exploring nearby attractions such as the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, the Golden Circle route, and the South Coast.

  • Akureyri: This is the second-largest city in Iceland, located in the north of the island. It is a charming and friendly town that offers a variety of activities and attractions. You can visit museums such as Akureyri Museum, Akureyri Art Museum, and Icelandic Phallological Museum. You can also enjoy its botanical garden, ski resort, and whale watching tours. Akureyri is also a gateway to exploring the north of Iceland, such as Lake Myvatn, Godafoss waterfall, and Husavik village.

  • Vestmannaeyjar: This is a group of islands off the south coast of Iceland, also known as the Westman Islands. They are famous for their volcanic activity, wildlife, and history. You can visit Heimaey, the largest and only inhabited island, where you can see Eldfell volcano, which erupted in 1973 and buried part of the town in lava. You can also see puffins, seals, and other seabirds on the cliffs and shores of the island. You can also take a boat tour to see other islands and rock formations.

  • Höfn: This is a town in southeast Iceland, situated on a peninsula between two glacial rivers. It is a scenic and peaceful town that offers stunning views of the Vatnajökull glacier and the Atlantic Ocean. You can visit the Glacier Museum, which showcases the history and science of glaciers and icebergs. You can also enjoy its seafood restaurants, golf course, and swimming pool. Höfn is also a base for exploring the nearby attractions such as Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, Skaftafell National Park, and Vatnajökull National Park.

  • Vík: This is a village in south Iceland, located on the Ring Road between Reykjavik and Höfn. It is the southernmost village in Iceland and the wettest place in the country. It is known for its black sand beach, which features basalt columns, caves, and rock formations. You can also see the Reynisdrangar sea stacks, which are said to be trolls turned to stone by the sunlight. You can also visit the Dyrhólaey peninsula, which offers panoramic views of the coast and the mountains.

  • Skaftafell: This is a nature reserve in southeast Iceland, part of the Vatnajökull National Park. It is a paradise for hikers and nature lovers, as it offers diverse landscapes such as glaciers, mountains, forests, and waterfalls. You can hike to see the Svartifoss waterfall, which is surrounded by black basalt columns. You can also hike to the Skaftafellsjökull glacier tongue, which is accessible by a marked trail. You can also book a guided ice climbing or glacier hiking tour that will take you to more remote and challenging areas.

These are just some of the amazing places that you can visit in Iceland. There are many more to discover and enjoy, depending on your interests and time. Traveling to Iceland is an unforgettable experience that will leave you in awe of nature’s power and beauty.

Table of Contents
  1. How to get to Iceland
  2. How to get around in Iceland
  3. What to see and do in Iceland