Iceland is one of those destinations that tops everyone’s bucket list. Giant waterfalls, blue lagoons, horses, ice caves, volcanoes, and Vikings. What’s not to love about Iceland? During our recent trip to Iceland we struggled with fitting in all of the spectacular sights, natural phenomenon, and unique adventures on our Iceland bucket list. We could live there for a year and we’d still find more to explore. Here are five suggestions for your Iceland bucket list.
Top Five Suggestions for Your Iceland Bucket List
Number Five – The Golden Circle
Geysers, waterfalls, and volcanic craters, the Golden Circle is one of the most epic road trips in the world. You can make the journey in one day, the circular route covers about 300 kilometers and loops from Reykjavík into central Iceland and back, but account for extra stopping time during this display of incredible, natural beauty.
If you’re looking for a day of natural diversity, the Golden Circle will quench your thirst. You can join organized tour groups around the Golden Circle, but driving yourself allows you stop anytime you want or even take a little detour off the beaten path.
One of the most memorable stops on the Golden Circle is Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site where you can find lakes, waterfalls, natural formations, and Silfra Fissure. The Silfra Fissure is a crack between the North American and Eurasian continental plates and it’s the only place in the world where you can dive or snorkel directly between two continental plates.
Also on the Golden Circle, you can find Strokkur Geyser, one of the two large geysers in the area and the only one that is currently active. The dramatic Gullfoss Waterfall and Kerid Crater are common places to stop as well. Gullfoss is actually two separate waterfalls, the upper one has a drop of 11 metres and the lower one 21 metres, and it’s one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland. Gullfoss is a popular place for photos during winter, since it offers a great setting for the Northern Lights. Since Gullfoss is one of Iceland’s most popular waterfalls, the route is well marked. Kerid Crater is a nearly neon-blue lake sitting in a volcano surrounded by rare red volcanic rock. Its bright rainbow of colors look unearthly. A few other options along the Golden Circle are: Laugarvatn Fontana, Skálholt Cathedral, The Geothermal Energy Exhibition, and Hveragerði.
Number Four – The Blue Lagoon
Known as one of the most epic swimming pools in the world, the Blue Lagoon’s water temperature averages 37°C and 40°C (98-104°F) year round making it one of the most popular destinations in Iceland. It’s also one of the 25 Wonders of the World.
The lagoon contains 9 million litres of water that renews itself every 40 hours. The warm waters are rich in minerals, silica, and sulphur and bathing in the Blue Lagoon is said to have healing and rejuvenating benefits for your skin.
Number Three – Glacier & Ice Cave Tours
I didn’t have much interest in an ice cave tour until I saw the above photo taken by Expert Vegabond and it reminded me of another plant, like he suggests with Superman’s “Fortress of Solitude”. One of the reasons I love to travel so much is to witness unique phenomenon with my own eyes. The ice caves of Iceland are a magical experience that bring you to another world and are a must on any Iceland bucket list.
Ice caves are rare phenomena that form naturally. Each fall, local Icelandic guides hunt for new ice caves. The structure and condition of the caves can vary greatly each year, which is one of the reasons I’d suggest you do an ice cave tour with an experienced guide.
Vatnajokull Glacier is the highest rated ice cave tour in Iceland.
Number Two – Skogafoss Waterfall
Skogafoss Waterfall is one of the prettiest in the county and you can drive right up to it. Skogafoss is perhaps most famous for its rainbow, which is almost always visible on sunny days.
Also close to Skogafoss is another waterfall, Seljalandsfoss, that you can walk behind. It’s the only known waterfall in the world that it is possible to walk behind.
Number One – Rent a Vehicle and let the Adventure Find You
One of the best ways to discover hidden gems and natural wonders in Iceland is to rent a car and let the road take you to the unknown. During our drive to the Blue Lagoon, we found a small cave on the side of the road. It wasn’t the main attraction or busy tourist destination but it was one of our favorite stops during the trip. It was like it was put there for us to discover and experience together. Another one of our favorite stops was when we saw Iceland horses alongside the road. Rather than driving by, we stopped and spent some time with them next to the road. Rent a vehicle in Iceland to experience the stunning Icelandic nature, the beauty of the rugged landscape, and the hidden gems on your own time.
What’s on your Iceland bucket list?
Do you dream of the natural wonders like the Northern Lights and waterfalls or are you looking for more of an adventure like a jeep excursion or snowmobiling? Unless you’re planning on moving there full-time, which isn’t a bad idea, you’ll never fit in everything that Iceland has to offer. This is just a taste of some of our favorites from our Iceland bucket list. We visited during a layover on our way to Greenland but we’re already planning our return for a more extended stay. Iceland is one destination you need to visit in 2017.