Iceland is jam-packed with endless culture, activities and natural beauty. After spending a week exploring its shores, Europe specialists Claire and Hannah choose their top five Icelandic adventures to add to your bucket list.
The Northern Lights
- The Northern Lights are one of the most popular reasons to visit Iceland, and this phenomenon is made all the more special given the fact that it cannot be guaranteed, even in the high season which falls between December and February. There is such a wealth of locations from which to view them, witnessing this phenomenon needn’t be solely for the hardy. Take a trip from Hotel Canopy by Hilton as night falls to hunt out the brightest location that night; don a fleece-lined boiler suit and brave the crisp air at Hotel Ranga or simply relax in an outdoor hot tub and wait for nature to do its thing. Although the lights weren’t at their brightest during our trip, there was something very other-worldly and moving about their show.
The Golden Circle
- No first time trip to Iceland would be complete without a visit to the Golden Circle. Comprising 3 key sights – Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss waterfall and geothermal Haukadalur. As a bit of a self-confessed geography nerd, Thingvellir was a revelation for me, as one of the few places in the world where you can view the fault lines of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. Situated on a lake, this makes a great stop to explore and marvel at the 360° views. Gullfoss is one of those iconic Icelandic waterfalls; fed by a glacier, the water plummets down 32m into a rugged canyon creating a spectacular sense of theatre. Last but by no means least, Haukadalur provides the guaranteed drama of erupting geysers. Although the eponymous Geysir no longer erupts, Strokkur bursts into life every 5-10 minutes at up to 40m into the sky.
Snowmobiling on Eyjafjallajökull
- For a completely different way to experience the wonderful landscape snowmobiling is a must in Iceland. This truly incredible adventure starts in a super jeep climbing up to Iceland’s most famous volcano, Eyjafjallajokull which last erupted in 2010. Riding the super jeep on a glacier is a fun and exciting experience in itself, but once you reach base camp the thrilling journey really begins. The landscape is stunning and completely untouched – on a clear day you will have amazing views of Iceland’s south coast. While the glacier is amazing from below, nothing beats it from above!
The Glacier Lagoon & Diamond Beach
- There are not many places that completely blow me away. Yet, the lagoon at Jokulsarlon is one of them. This truly magical glacial lake, set on the edge of Vatnajokull National Park developed after the glacier started receding from the Atlantic Ocean. You will be spellbound by the mini-icebergs floating out to sea. Some get washed ashore onto the black volcanic beach which glistens in the sun, earning itself the name Diamond Beach. If you are in luck you may see seals swimming in the lagoon or relaxing on an iceberg for the ultimate wilderness encounter here. Between April and October you can jump on a boat around the Glacier Lagoon too for an up close experience with this natural phenomenon.
- If there’s one luxury lodge in the world not to be missed, Deplar Farm is it. A beautifully restored farmhouse in the Troll Peninsula of Northern Iceland, its remote location means 360 undisturbed views that are simply awe inspiring. From the moment you arrive, you are greeted by sumptuous rooms, an incredible spa and food to die for. Not only this, but there is an abundance of activities included from surfing in summer to Nordic skiing in winter and most things in between. We loved riding Icelandic Horses between snow covered mountains as the sun set over the ocean, before relaxing in the geothermal outdoor pool as the Northern Lights danced above us. A true luxury Icelandic experience.