10 Scenic Places to Visit in Iceland
February 2, 2016
Iceland is a nature junkie’s playground, containing a multitude of natural wonders like – glaciers, water, waterfalls, volcanos, Northern Lights, and more – that’s bound to leave adventurers excited to explore.
Discover the 10 places that you “must visit” in the geothermal center of the world below.
Iceland is a visual treat.Think geysers, waterfalls, fjords, volcanoes, and glacial lagoons. If you only have a couple of days, make the effort to get out of Reykjavik. Visit Geysir and Gulfoss and then head another two hours east to Jokulsarlon. You will NOT be disappointed. Watch waves wash broken icebergs ashore as they crash on a black-sand beach; take a 30-minute boat trip to the foot of the glacier, dodging icebergs on the way; try not to scare away the seals atop floating ice as they bask in the sun’s rays; and see what 3,000-year-old ice tastes like as you sample it on your boat ride back to shore.
Boat rides depart regularly from the main entrance at Jokulsarlon. Warm up with a hot chocolate from the canteen afterwards and bring an extra memory card…it may take a few shots to capture the perfect Jack & Rose pose.
2. Gullfoss Waterfall
Called the Golden Falls, in English, this is one of the most spectacular waterfalls I’ve ever seen. Part of Iceland‘s famous Golden Circle tour, Gullfoss falls is not to be missed. The Hvítá river drops 32 metres into a crevice in the earth, dumping between 80 and 140 m³/s of water over the edge.
One of the strange things about Gullfoss is you can’t see it until you are standing above it; the river seems to vanish into the earth. Hiking down the steps to stand beside the waterfall, is well worth it, even though you eventually have to climb back up!
3. Geysir Geyser
My husband and I just returned from a trip to Iceland for my 40th birthday – what a country! We were lucky enough to be there during a solar storm that last occurred about 7 years ago. The solar storm made the Northern Lights brighter and more active than usual, which thrilled me since they’re what I most wanted to see in Iceland.
One of our favorite stops was Geysir, home to a geyser that erupts very reliably every 3 minutes or so, shooting boiling water up to 200 feet in the air. The English word “geyser” is said to have derived from the town of Geysir. The only down side of this stop: the rotten-egg smell from the sulfuric steam pouring out of the geyser and surrounding hot springs. My husband and I really enjoyed Iceland and can’t wait to go back in the summer for some great hiking.
Rauðisandur, or (Red Sand), is precisely that: a beach with red sand. Endless red sand. Well, not endless, but 10 km is a lot. The magnificent hues of the sand differ with daylight and weather, and the beach is the biggest pearl in a string of coves with sand ranging in colors from white through yellow through red to black, and in coarseness from very fine to sole-hurting chips of seashells.
What to do in Rauðisandur? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. There is a cafe but not much else. There’s just pure sand and unique tranquility. You might want to step out of the car, get the camera out and start walking. Forget everything. Except maybe getting the perfect shot of the ever-changing hues of yellow, orange and red.
Getting there the road (614) is not of great quality and it’s very winding with 180-degree turns. Not protected with rails and narrow at times. I admit I was really scared looking down on my side of the car. Our car wasn’t really fit for this kind of road even if it is not an F type road. Jeep-like vehicles are best. But at the end of that was this magnificent beach and it was worth it.
5. Subterranean Ice Cathedrals, Langjokull Glacier – Iceland
We got to the Langjokull Glacier by Super Jeep, reaching an elevation of 4,500 feet above sea level. Being the second largest glacier in Iceland, approximately 950kilemteres squared and with a volcano occupying over half of this area, you can imagine it’s a pretty impressive environment. You can take a snowmobile across the glacier, a must see (and particular favourite) are the subterranean ice cathedrals, sculpted by the Icelandic weather and unseen by many.
Camping overnight is also an option; it’s remote but definitely the best place to see the Northern Lights.