If you’ve ever dreamed of seeing a small piece of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, travel to Iceland. Despite its name, Iceland is full of green, natural beauty. There are plenty of opportunities to visit while the climate is mild. A small Nordic nation situated in the North Atlantic Ocean, Iceland “is an isolated island practically packed with dramatic landscapes.” Iceland has quickly become one of the most popular ecotourism destinations on the planet. The country still very much values the preservation of its fragile environment. However, tourists are always welcomed with open arms.
Here are a few things you should know before visiting Iceland:
Travel to Iceland for the Sights
- Volcanoes: Located between two tectonic plates, Iceland contains 30 active volcano systems. This amounts to one eruption roughly every five years.
- Waterfalls: Iceland has a vast diversity of waterfalls, anything from glacial falls that flow straight down, to canyon falls that flow dramatically.
- National Parks: The island contains three national parks. Iceland even boasts the largest national park in all of Europe: Vatnajökull.
- Cities & small towns: The capital is Reykjavik. Equally notable, the small village of Vik is known for the stranded airplane on a black sand beach.
Things to Do
- The Northern Lights: Iceland’s main tourist attraction, you’re not guaranteed to see the lights but you’ll certainly have a great time looking. Þingvellir National Park is where you’re most likely to see them clearly.
- Take a Hike: A long hike is the best way to see all the natural attractions. Dress appropriately for the weather and the terrain. You may find yourself in lava fields, glacial fields, grassy meadows, and black sand deserts.
- Drive Around the Ring Road: The 1300-kilometer Ring Road wraps around the entire country, giving road-trippers a chance to see all the best sites.
- Look out for elves: Many Icelandic natives maintain a belief in elves. They are sacred to the land, albeit controversial around the world.
- Visit a hot spring: Almost every Icelandic town features a geothermal swimming pool, as well as a hot tub and sauna. If you are looking for a popular tourist destination, the Blue Lagoon is the most famous hot spring in Iceland.
- Venture outdoors: From horseback riding to snowmobiling, Iceland has the best scenery to enjoy the outdoors in a variety of ways.
- Wildlife Watching: Home to the storied Puffin, Iceland is also known for exciting whale-watching tours.
Be a Responsible Tourist
- Don’t Vandalize Moss: Weird but true. Moss grows in abundance on this island, but it’s very delicate. Once you destroy a piece of it, it may take decades to recover. Tread lightly, even a footprint can destroy it.
- Avoid bottled water: Iceland prides itself on being environmentally friendly. Less trash is always better, and you never have to worry about clean drinking water. This country has some of the cleanest and clearest water in the world.
- Respect the wildlife: Wildlife in Iceland roam freely, including wild horses. Watch out for wildlife homes and babies, always respect boundaries.
Safety & Transport
- Unpredictable weather: While summer can be mild, winter is normally extreme. Heavy snow- and rainfall can make for dangerous conditions. Be mindful of road conditions and always, always dress accordingly. Any time you are traveling in these conditions, pack emergency gear along with non-perishable food and water.
- Geological concerns: Iceland’s geology is a major tourist attraction, but it can also pose some risks. When hiking, it’s important to follow marked paths. If you are looking to go “off the beaten path” make sure you’ve done your research beforehand. Always check weather forecasts prior to exploring, as run-off from glacial mountains and other conditions can cause rapid waterfall.
Popular Food & Drink
- Fermented shark: Admittedly, most visitors despise the taste of fermented shark, but it’s the national dish of Iceland!
- Hot dogs: Another strange but true fact. Icelandic hot dogs don’t come cheap, though! Close to $7 USD each, these are a blend of lamb, beef, and pork. Served with fried onions, brown mustard, raw onions, and creamy remoulade.
- Skyr: A combination of cottage cheese and yogurt, this dish tastes similar to Greek yogurt. Typically served with berries or other fruits.
- Lamb: The most readily available meat, lamb is a staple in Iceland. Don’t be surprised if this is served nightly as you tour the country.
Be sure to research the seasons and the weather before you decide on dates for your trip to Iceland. The weather is certainly something to experience, but make sure you’re ready! If you want to see one of the most beautiful countries in the world, get on board an Icelandair or Delta flight immediately!
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