Our vacations back in the day always had an undertone of adventure and discovery. From donning crampons and trekking glaciers in Patagonia, getting drenched by the Iguazu Falls in Argentina to enjoying the great Oslo to Bergen rail journey in Norway… but with the arrival of kids our vacations took on a tamer approach.
After five years we were in need of a break from buckets and spades and ready to add some adventure back into our vacation life. With the kids at their grandparents we flew to the outdoor enthusiast’s paradise, Iceland.
Our trip was flawlessly organized by Scott Dunn, beginning in south Iceland we stayed at the luxury log built Hotel Ranga, set in a remote location an hour from Reykjavik and then went on to the capital to stay at 101 Hotel, a member of the Design Hotels, with a great downtown location.
Here are eight experiences/ sites you must not miss…
Our 2-hour horse ride with Skálakot Farm meant we could get up-close to some of the most incredible, breath-taking landscapes. The rides are suitable even for a beginner as they cater for all abilities. Our tour had us wading through streams and past glorious open pastures, picturesque farms and beautiful churches. Our final destination was the stunning Íráfoss waterfall, plunging 135 feet in a narrow plume.
Experiencing Iceland’s underground world is probably one of my favorite vacation activities to date. Exploring natures magnificent formations in the depths of the earth was absolutely mind-blowing.
Iceland is a paradise for hikers. With mountains, rivers, waterfalls, hot springs, volcanoes and glaciers in every shape, size and color to explore. Famous for its stunning, unspoiled scenery, summer is the best time to discover the country by foot on the endless hiking and trekking trails. There are walking trails around most villages and boltholes and it’s not unusual to find a hidden gem in the form of a canyon or waterfall around the corner from where you are staying.
A great tour that comprises of three well-known attractions – Þingvellir, Geyser and Gulfoss.
Þingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is where you can see the incredible separation of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates with a clearly visible rift valley. I was blown away to be stood where the earth had cracks open.
Geyser is the original hot water spout after which all the geysers around the world are named. However, eruptions today are rare, luckily though its neighbor Strokkur have eruptions as high as a 100ft above the ground every 5 – 10 minutes.
Gulfoss means Golden Falls and is Iceland’s most famous waterfall. No photo can do the immense size and power of this natural attraction justice.
This geothermal spa has become the island’s leading attraction. Set in the tortured black lava fields, with a slightly futuristic backdrop you can revel in 38 degrees of heat. Bliss. The warm water is rich in blue algae mineral salts and fine silica mud, which conditions and exfoliates the skin. There are also two steam rooms, a sauna and a massage pool for your enjoyment. It’s so close to Keflavik International Airport that we headed straight there as soon as we landed!
In the summer months the shores of Iceland are primary feeding grounds for whales and other large marine animals. There are Minke dolphins, Humpback Whales, Orcas and Killer whales to spot. With the tours relying on wild nature, sightings can obviously not be guaranteed but being out on the water is great fun and quite invigorating, even if you don’t get lucky.
One of the tallest structures in the country this huge concrete church, located in the middle of Reykjavík, can be seen from almost every point of the city and is a must while visiting the city.
Due to Iceland’s northerly latitude the sun doesn’t really set during the height of summer. Make the most of the midnight sun and enjoy the vibrant Reykjavík nightlife, all the popular bars and clubs are along a main street called Laugavegur. Just ensure you have some serious krona for the city’s notoriously pricey drinks.