With its mile-thick glaciers and darting illuminations of the northern lights, Iceland is a magical country with awe-inducing natural wonders. Soak in the soothing mineral waters of hot springs, journey across deep fjords and hike through the picturesque highland region.
Most visitors start their journey in Reykjavík, a charming city free of the massive skyscrapers and heavy traffic of other metropolitan capitals. Soak up the laid-back atmosphere in chic cafés and look for colorful murals adorning the streets. Relax on the green grass of Austurvöllur outside of Parliament and examine works by Icelandic artists in the National Gallery. Live music is a popular entertainment option, and many nightclubs and concert venues stay open until the early hours of the morning.
Iceland’s interior remains wild and undeveloped, but two mountain roads allow public access to the stunning highlands. Head to Landmannalaugar to relax in natural hot rivers or venture through the nature reserve of Þórsmörk. Marvel at the sparkling glaciers and jagged peaks that give this region its rugged character.
Venture to the small towns of West Iceland for yet more natural wonders, including a series of scenic fjords. Follow trails leading to majestic waterfalls at Snæfellsjökull National Park. Journey close to the Arctic Circle in the north of Iceland to learn about the local marine life at the Húsavík Whale Museum or at the Seal Center in Hvammstangi.
The best way to get around Iceland is by rented car or on an organized tour. A four-wheel drive is required on the rugged roads of the highlands. Alternatively, domestic flights are a popular way to travel around the country quickly.
Plan a trip from May to September for the warmest weather and the longest days of sunshine. Those looking forward to hiking and exploring mountainous roads should wait until late June when most access roads open for the summer. If you’re chasing the northern lights, September through April provide the best chance of seeing these spectacular natural wonders.
Although summer brings access to astonishing summer scenery, winters in Iceland offer a whole host of alternative adventure sports including skiing down floodlit slopes.