One of the hottest travel destinations for 2017, Iceland is an enchanting country filled with striking landscapes, photogenic vistas, and ethereal scenery. Nicknamed the Land of Fire and Ice, many visitors are surprised to find that, despite its close proximity to the Arctic Circle, the temperatures are fairly mild. A land of often intense geothermal activity, many people remember the chaos caused to airlines by the volcanic ash emitted by Eyjafjallajokullin the year 2000.
A place like nowhere else on earth, Iceland is famed for its otherworldly atmosphere and unique natural sights.Whilst many visitors spend a large part of their visit at the capital city of Reykjavik and its immediate surroundings, do venture out and explore more of what this fascinating land has to offer. Driving the ring road allows one to take in much of the country’s splendour, as well as meet an interesting array of people, and the northern centre of Akureyri is a great base from which to discover areas of breathtaking scenery and destinations that are more remote and off the beaten track.
Discovering the magic is probably best done with an Iceland tour guide though; not only can they take you to marvelous places that you probably would not have found if travelling independently and under your own steam, but they can also explain to you more about the areas’ histories, tell you about the local people and culture, and regale you with fascinating anecdotes and examples of local myths, legends, and folklore. Some of Iceland’s most dramatic landscapes include:
Whilst Iceland boasts several striking black-sand beaches, Reynisfjara Beach in the village of Vik is probably the most stunning. It has angular basalt columns on the shores, with the grey rocks, black sands, and blue of the ocean in stark yet picturesque contrast. Walk along the sands, admire the views, and inhale deeply. Look out for the sea stacks too – legend has it that they are frozen trolls! This really is Iceland’s coast at its finest!
A large peninsula in the northwestern part of Iceland, the stunning Westfjords sees very few visitors. This is both a pity, because it is such a beautiful place, but also a huge blessing, as it means that you can enjoy the wild and impressive scenery in blissful peace and quiet. Although rather difficult to reach, if you make the effort you will be gloriously rewarded. Home to an abundance of wildlife and boasting some of the country’s most sublime landscapes, you are sure to remember this place forever.
Skógafoss is a popular waterfall in the south of the country. One of Iceland’s biggest waterfalls, the powerful water plummets for 60 metres over the jagged cliff edge, hitting the pool at the bottom with a resounding crash. The thunderous roar of water can be heard from all around, but nothing can quite prepare you for the magnificent vision that awaits.
Close to the biggest glacier in Europe, Vatnajokull, Jökulsárlón provides many excellent photo shots. You can admire a huge shimmering lake at the point where the glacier calves, and a narrow channel leads to the sea. Indeed, it is Europe’s largest glacial lake. Small ices bergs wash up on the shores of the black sand beaches, presenting a beautiful juxtaposition of light and dark shades. The ever-changing landscapes are truly amazing, and you can explore fascinating ice caves.
Located at the fringe of the impressive Myrdalsjokull Glacier, the mighty Mount Maelifell is coated with a peculiar kind of colour-changing moss, known as grimmia. The hues of the moss depend on the humidity of the soil. The volcanic cone rises proudly into the sky, with the colours of the moss meaning that you are possibly in for a different sight each time you visit.
A gorgeous sea cliff, Landrangur sits on the coast of the Snaefellnes Peninsula. Red cliffs stand in contrast to the blues and swirling whites of the raging ocean below, and you can enjoy sweeping scenic views. The rugged volcanic terrain adds to the overall beauty.
In the famous area of Geysir, part of the renowned Golden Circle, Strokkur is a very active geyser. Shooting a plume of water into the air every five minutes or so, it is a reliable place to witness the effects of the earth’s heat. The pool of water bubbles for several minutes before the pressure builds enough for it to blow. The surrounding ethereal landscapes are filled with smaller hot pools, some scalding, small geysers, and intriguing rock formations.
Other stunning and dramatic more popular places in incredible Iceland include Thingvellir National Park, Strokknes, Gullfoss Waterfall, Haifoss, Hvitserkur, Myvatn, Kirkjufell..the list goes on!
Image details and licences: https://flic.kr/p/7UdzMC (Tom Burke, CC BY-NC 2.0), https://flic.kr/p/dmFtNm (rjzii, CC BY-NC 2.0), https://flic.kr/p/Hqwe7j (joxeankoret, CC BY-SA 2.0), https://flic.kr/p/9GZjuj (Bernard McManus, CC BY 2.0), https://flic.kr/p/59TQrx (Richard Jones, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0), https://flic.kr/p/9YNJ9N (Johan Wieland, CC BY-ND 2.0), https://flic.kr/p/sSj3aZ (Ævar Guðmundsson, CC BY 2.0), https://flic.kr/p/DA4CdR (Jennifer Boyer, CC BY-ND 2.0), https://flic.kr/p/cdhh23 (Daniel ............, CC BY 2.0)