Iceland is located in the far northwest of Europe, in the so-called Arctic Ocean. After the United Kingdom, this country full of contrasts is the second largest island state in Europe in terms of area. Its main island is even the largest volcanic island on earth. Typical for this is the thin earth crust with geysers, lava landscapes and black beaches. Due to the population density, which amounts up to 3.5 inhabitants per km², Iceland is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. The largest number of the population lives though in the capital Reykjavik. It was only in the 9th century that colonisation began, when a Swedish Viking wintered on this island.
The 8 Top Highlights in Iceland
- Reykjavík – the “Smoking Bay“
Top 1 is first of all Iceland’s capital Reykjavík. You should plan at least half a day to explore this city surrounded by sea bays and natural phenomena. Especially worth seeing are the Hallgrímskirkja church, the main shopping street Laugavegur, the Harpa concert hall, Rainbow Street and the famous Sun Voyager sculpture. It is simply wonderful to walk through Reykjavik and make a little side trip to the small shops and cute cafés every now and then.
Top 2 is the highland valley of Landmannalaugar. There is something magical about this place and is considered to be one of the most beautiful in the whole of Iceland. There are colourful mountains here as well as a hot spring where you can go for a swim. The area is a paradise for hikers. It is therefore possible to march for 2-3 hours along a 5 km long circular trail through the area.
- Þingvellir National Park
Top 3 is the 237 km² national park Þingvellir (Thingvellir). It is part of the well-known “Golden Circle”, a famous tourist tour through Iceland. Especially worth seeing in this national park is the relatively small waterfall called Öxararfoss. Another attraction are the cracks and rock gorges, a natural phenomenon caused by the separation of the American and Eurasian tectonic plates.
- Gullfoss – the “Gold Waterfall
Gullfoss, our top 4, actually consists of two waterfalls, one with a height of twenty metres and one with eleven. The water rushes, at several stages of a very wide river, into the depths with a deafening noise. As it does so, it almost always conjures up a fine rainbow in the sprayy air. A visit to Gullfoss, which is also included in the “Golden Circle”, is worthwhile especially in the cold season because of the many pretty ice-cone edges.
- Blue Lagoon – the Bláa Lónið
In the middle of a lava field located in the southwest of Iceland lies the Blue Lagoon, our top 5. This is actually a huge thermal outdoor pool near the capital of Iceland. Known mainly for its blue coloured water. The coloured algae and the rugged lava rocks are responsible for this. This lagoon is open all year round, but at outrageous prices.
- Haukadalur with the Strokkur – a hot spring area with the famous geyser.
The geyser geothermal area in the Haukadalur valley is also part of the “Golden Circle”. It boils and bubbles everywhere. In front of the famous Strokkur Geyser, many tourists wait for it to erupt again and again. Every 10 minutes or so it starts to hiss, before a 15 – 20 m high fountain shoots up into the air and then pours down again as a hot drizzle. Afterwards, the waterhole sloshes a little more before it lies still again, as if nothing had happened. You can also hike in this volcanic area, for example up to a nearby hill. Here you can enjoy a fantastic view.
Mount Kirkjufell, our top 7, with the Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall is located in the north of the Snæfellsnes peninsula. The mountain rises 463 metres into the sky, making it a especially popular subject for photographers. In the morning or in the evening, this mountain is particularly impressive. The low sun makes the sky around it glows in colourful tones. Kirkjufell is also a great tip for photographing the northern lights. With some luck, you can experience the colourful lights in the night sky on clear nights especially between the end of August and mid-April.
- Skógafoss – one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland
The Skógafoss waterfall tumbles 60 metres into the depths. A well-constructed hiking trail with stairs leads right up to the edge of the waterfall. The power of the water can be felt everywhere. Feel it with all your senses: the spray whips into your face, your ears are deafened by the roar of the water and the earth seems to tremble under your feet due to the volume of water. According to an Icelandic saga, a box of gold is said to be hidden behind the waterfall. In the land of elves and trolls, various legends were already spread by the first pioneers and the Icelanders really take them seriously.
All in all, Iceland appears to be a magic island with swinging elves and teasing trolls, a real winter insider’s tip especially for adventure fans and nature lovers.