One of the places that is high on my travel bucket list is Iceland. Iceland has become increasingly popular over the last couple of years and I’ve read so many different blog posts all about it which has only made me want to visit even more. It’s only a short flight (just over three hours) over to the capital Reykjavik and if you’re lucky, you can score flights for well under £100 leaving you with more money to spend on accommodation and excursions once you are out there. I’ve spent a bit of time reading up on Iceland through other people’s blog posts (one of my favourites is Leigh’s – I always love her travel content!) and I’ve come up with the top five reasons why I need to pay a visit to the country myself.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to see the Aurora Borealis (or the Northern Lights as they’re more commonly known) and it’s well known that Iceland is one of the best places to go to get a glimpse of them. Although it’s not guaranteed that you will see them (some people can be disappointed!), it’s definitely worth taking a trip to Iceland between September and April in the hopes of being there at the right time. You can see the dancing green lights above the city of Reykjavic, however there are plenty of trips and tours outside of the city which offer you a better chance of seeing them. I would love to go on a boat tour and get some photos of them for myself.
The Blue Lagoon is one of the most visited attractions in Iceland and it’s no surprise why. Built on a lava field in Grindavik, the Blue Lagoon which was formed in 1976, is a man-made lagoon which takes its water from the nearby geothermal power plant, Svartsengi. The waters are rich in minerals such as sulphur and silica which is said to have many benefits to the skin and can help skin diseases such as psoriasis. If you visit, you’re likely to notice a lot of the other visitors taking adva
ntage of the nearby mud and using it as a face mask – make sure you don’t pay for a mud mask (which costs around €10, as this is exactly the same thin but you can help yourself!) which can leave the skin feeling really soft and supple. The Blue Lagoon is located between Reykjavic and Keflavic International Airport, so it makes sense to join a tour on the way to the Blue Lagoon.
This is something that I wouldn’t have usually connected with a country like Iceland, but one of the most popular activities out there is whale watching. Throughout the country, there are a lot of trips organised to allow tourists to go out on a boat and hopefully see whales in their natural habitat. As with the Northern Lights, seeing whales isn’t guaranteed so it’s best not to get your hopes up. It can be a long (and often chilly) wait but I’m sure that eventually seeing a whale is well worth it. There’s not just whales in the North Atlantic Ocean around Reykjavic, you may also be able to spot dolphins and porpoises as well as the humpback whales.
Iceland is a volcanic island with around 130 active and extinct volcanic mountains. The last known eruption was of Bárðarbunga in 2015 which had a huge impact on the air quality in Iceland. There have been times (more recently in 2010 with the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull) when the eruption of a volcano in Iceland has affected the flights around Europe due to the amount of volcanic ash that was in the air. Although the volcanoes can be dangerous and are often seen as a nuisance, they’re one of the main reasons why tourists flock to Iceland as there’s not many places that have active volcanoes. Iceland is known as the Land of Ice and Fire due to the amount of volcanoes and glaciers in the country. I would love to visit a volcano and this is why Iceland is so high on my to-visit list.
As Iceland is so far north and is extremely close to the Arctic Circle, it experiences more daylight hours during the summer than we do in the UK. During the summer solstice (the longest day of the year which is the 21st June), the sun doesn’t set in Iceland until after midnight and then it rises again at around 3am meaning that there’s over 21 hours of daylight. Iceland shares this phenomenon with neighbouring Nordic countries Finland, Norway, Sweden, Greenland and Russia. This is something that I would love to experience, although I can imagine that it can be quite disorientating coming from the UK where the sun sets before 10pm even in the summer but it would be an amazing experience.
Full credit for all images goes to Iceland Tourism