Iceland is one of the world’s most stunningly beautiful countries. It sits at the edge of the Arctic Circle and is home to some of the most active volcanoes on the planet, which mixed with its phenomenal landscapes makes it a popular place for tourists.
I for one love visiting Iceland and exploring its fjords, glaciers, hot springs and lava fields. There is so much stunning landscape in Iceland, most of which seems like it is straight out of National Geographic. The scenery here is absolutely breath-taking, and a motorhome is my favourite way to take it all in. There are depots in the populated Southwest Iceland region as well as one in Akureyri -the capital of the north- making it easy to take in all of the island nation’s stunning scenery.
Here are my top 5 must see things in Iceland.
1. The Blue Lagoon
I usually start here, as it is close to the Keflavík International Airport, which is the main gateway into the country. The Blue Lagoon is a man-made geothermal spa that keeps its water at 40°C throughout the entire year. I love to soak in the silica and sulphur water in the middle of the lava field, while being surrounded by picturesque scenery. It truly is a serene spot and one of the most visited attractions in Iceland.
2. Gullfoss Waterfall
The magnificent 32-metre high, three tiered waterfall is the largest in all of Europe. It flows from the Hvítá River into three steps before it plunges into two separate waterfalls that appear to be disappearing into the earth. Gullfoss Waterfall is a popular attraction on the famous Golden Circle (Gullfoss, Geysir and Thingvellir National Park) but I often visit it on its own, as I find it to be truly magnificent and I love waterfalls.
3. Skaftafell National Park
Skaftafell National Park is now part of the massive Vatnajökull National Park, though this happens to be my favourite part of it. Skaftafell sits on the southwest region of the park and is home to some breath-taking scenery, including one of my favourites; the Svartifoss waterfall (or Black Fall). The 20-metre waterfall is set around black lava columns that are topped with beautiful greenery. It truly is magnificent. I also visit the Skaftafell glaciers, jagged mountains and ice caves, and can spend days here thanks to its great camping grounds and hiking opportunities.
Although Landmannalaugar is located in South Iceland it is still quite remote, though easy to access with a four-wheel drive motorhome and well worth the trouble. Landmannalaugar is an area of outstanding beauty, known for its multi-coloured rhyolite mountains, expansive lava fields and the 1,491 metre-high Hekla volcano. There is a great campground right onsite where I always spend a few nights so that I can explore this picturesque area. There are some great hiking trails that can take anywhere from 2 hours to 4 days to walk, with the most popular route being the seven hour hikethrough the Laugahraun lava field, to the volcano Mount Brennisteinsalda, up Mount Bláhnjúkur and to Ljótipollur crater lake.
5. Jökulsárgljúfur National Park
Like Skaftafell National Park, Jökulsárgljúfur National Park is now part of the Vatnajökull National Park, sitting on the very northern part of the park. I access the park via Akureyri, though it can be accessed from any part of the country via Route 1. The Diamond Circle lies in the park; which consists of Lake Mývatn, Dettifoss Waterfall, Ásbyrgi canyon and the town of Húsavík. This is a popular drive and one that I often find myself on.
Lake Mývatn is a stunning crater lake that is home to numerous bird species. It was created around 2,300 years ago thanks to a large basaltic lava eruption. Dettifoss is the next stop on this stunning drive, which is Europe’s most powerful waterfall. It sits along the Jökulsá á FjöllumRiver and plunges for 45-metres into the Vatnajökull glacier.
The horse-shoe shaped Ásbyrgi canyon is the next natural attraction on the Diamond Circle, which is a 3.5 kilometre long canyon with 100-metre high cliff walls. I end this drive in the town of Húsavík and its famous Hallgrímskirkja church before returning my motorhome.
These 5 must see things in Iceland are just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more to see, much of which depends on the time of the year you plan on visiting. If you visit in the fall or winter be sure to head to Rangár?ingytra or Hvalfjardarsveitto see the famous Northern Lights. If you are interesting in whale watching go in the summer and head to Husavik in Northeast Iceland. Hiking, skiing, fishing, ice climbing and white-water rafting can all be enjoyed in Iceland, it just depends on when you are visiting. I prefer to visit in the summer, as it is easier to get around in a motorhome.