In mid-June 2017 I had the chance to do 8-day road trip around Iceland with my wife and a friend family. First, I will tell you something about Iceland. Iceland is one of the youngest ground structures on Earth. It is created by volcano eruptions and the land is still growing. A constant process of change preserves Iceland’s unparalleled beauty.
My wife and I, we adore travelling! So, when our friends proposed to us to go with them to Iceland we didn’t think a lot, before saying yes! Iceland is a very interesting destination, but it is quite far even from Europe and it has never been in our travelling plans. But when you travel with somebody else, who has spent some time thinking and planning a trip like this it is different. Just from the beginning the idea was to make the tour of the whole island and we did it. This is how our trip looked like:
In this post I will show you my top 5 destinations in Iceland.
Waterfalls are a typical view in Iceland, especially in the South of the country. First you get really excited with each and every waterfall you see on the road. After a while you start noticing only the biggest. My favorite is Seljalandsfoss (a hard for pronunciation one).
Seljalandsfoss is located right by Route 1 and it is one of the most popular waterfalls in Iceland. The interesting thing about this waterfall is that you can walk behind it into a small cave. It is a great experience to hear and feel the power of the natural wonder.
You must keep in mind that you will need waterproof clothes as the wind scatters water drops everywhere.
I would recommend seeing this waterfall by the end of the day as, when you pass behind the waterfall you can see the sun set on the horizon.
Black lava sand beaches of Reynisfjara
The black sand is something very untypical. On the west side of the shore you can see the Dyrhólaey arch.
The beach is famous for its striking columnar basalt formations. Columnar basalt is formed when magma cools slowly and cracks into columns, usually hexagonal, as the surface area decreases. The columns always stand perpendicular to the cooling surface and can be horizontal, spreading out from the center or vertical. The regular basalt columns resembling a rocky step pyramid, which is called Hálsanef.
You can see different shaped stones.
Glaciers cover about 11% of Iceland’s surface. Iceland is home of the largest ice cap in Europe, Vatnajokull, in addition to other formidable ones, such as Langjokull, Myrdalsjokull and Snᴂfellsjokull. You can barely go anywhere in Iceland without spotting one of these ivory behemoths in the distance. On our road we passed by to see a glacier tongue.
I was very impressed by the size of the glacier.
We ran into an American couple from Alaska, who were shooting some photos for a yoga blog. I think they have chosen a great place for shooting.
A great attraction related with glaciers is the Glacial Lagoon. The ice-cold water is filled with icebergs that have broken off the vast Vatnajokull glacier.
The lagoon is very young – only 80 years old. Before, the Glacier was going to the water, but because of the melting of the snow and the hot water from the ocean due to the Gulf Stream it turned into a lagoon, which is getting bigger every year. The icebergs break free from the glacier edge and are carried by the current towards the river mouth. Tidal currents move the icebergs back and forth, causing them to scarpe the bottom of the river. Winds and tides erode the icebergs until they are small enough to float to the sea.
The blue and black chunks of ice look great from afar, but even better up close, so we took a boat tour of the lagoon. We took an amphibian boat that led us into the lagoon.
The organization was great, and everything was planned in minutes. Each boat was followed by a small safe boat for security reasons.
Most icebergs are milky white, but some have a bright blue color, caused by the interplay of light and ice crystals. Their black color is because of a mixture of sand, stones and lava dust.
After the Glacial lagoon you can go to the beach just on the other side of the road where you can see ice-blocks in various shape and size spread on the black sand beach. There is a great contrast between the black sand, the blue water, and the milky-white ice cubes.
Látrabjarg (bird cliff) is the westernmost point of Iceland and is considered the westernmost point of Europe outside the mid-Atlantic archipelago of Azores (which are often classified as remote islands).
On the cliff, we saw so many birds, but we were most impressed by the puffins. During the summer, the Atlantic puffin is the most common bird in Breidagjordur. Its most distinctive feature is the beak – blue, yellow, and red during nesting season.
They were so close to us – just 10 cm from you.
The puffin has a black back, neck and crown, its underparts are white, and cheek patches grey. They were amazing and you could spend hours watching.
And last but not least, Iceland is full of hot springs that can be freely used by locals and tourists. And, after a long day of excitement it is the best way to relax. There is a special site with a map of all hot pots.
If you want to see more from Iceland you can do it with my e-book “Iceland – The land of a hundred faces” full of stories and more than 200 high quality photos.