If you’ve been struggling to settle on a spot for your next holiday, I don’t blame you. There are thousands of incredible options spread all across the world; from the Italian Cinque Terre, to South America’s Patagonia and the secluded villages of South-East Asia. Iceland may not be near the top of your list; it’s incredibly hard to get to (especially from Australia), frequently experiences wild Arctic weather conditions and can be quite expensive. Despite all this, I urge you to place it at the very top of your bucket list.
The tiny Arctic country will offer an adventure like no other and the chance to experience some of the planet’s most spectacular landscapes and natural phenomenon. Driving around Iceland’s ring road will take you past many of the country’s top attractions, and can technically be done in under a day. We took 12 and felt like we could have easily stayed for another couple of months. If it’s adventure you’re after, Iceland is the place to visit. Here are 11 reasons you should drop everything and book a trip to Iceland right now!
1. Ice Caves
One of Iceland’s biggest winter attractions is guided ice cave tours. Although the standard tours can get crazy crowded, with several companies running tours at once, the experience is still well worth it for a glimpse at these awe-inspiring natural phenomenon. Join a small-group tour or photographic tour to venture deeper into the glacier, away from the crowds, and into some of the most stunning natural-forming attractions on Earth.
2. Glacier Lagoons
The most widely-known and probably the most spectacular glacier lagoon is Jökulsárlón Lagoon in the country’s East. Watch the icebergs as they float by on their way to the coast before jumping across the road to see the large chunks of ice wash up on Diamond Beach’s black sand.
3. Northern Lights
Iceland is one of the best places in the world to witness the breathtaking natural phenomenon of the aurora borealis illuminating the night sky. Visit in winter and hope for a cloudless night for the chance to see the lights dance across the sky over a snow-drenched Arctic landscape.
4. Waterfalls Galore
You won’t struggle to stumble across some spectacular waterfalls in Iceland, with literally hundreds of them dotted across the country. You can visit the famous Skogafoss, Gulfoss and Seljalandsfoss in the South, but make sure to venture further North to escape the crowds and discover some hidden gems.
5. Thermal Springs
Everyone is familiar with the world-famous Blue Lagoon thermal baths, but Iceland’s volatile volcanic landscape offers hundreds of less crowded options to see and explore. Grotagja Cave is too hot for a dip, but descending into this other-worldly chamber through a crack in the rocks on the surface is an adventure like no other.
6. Cute Cottages
Icelandic accommodation can be expensive; if you don’t look in the right place. If you’re road tripping with a few friends, there’s nothing better than cosying up in the warmth of a little A-Frame cottage to shelter from the weather after a long day of driving. Cottages are scattered all across the country and can often be a lot cheaper (and in my opinion, way more awesome) than hotels or guesthouses.
7. Winter Landscapes
Iceland in winter is absolutely gorgeous, and in my opinion, the best time to visit. Ignoring the added difficulties of driving; Winter offers a chance to see the Northern lights, there are fewer people around to ruin your photos and the landscape looks stunning drenched in snow. After all, is it really a true visit to ICE-land without experiencing some snowstorms and icy weather conditions?
8. Unique Adventures
From swimming between continental plates at Silfra Fissure to white water rafting down glacial rivers and trekking over black sand dunes to abandoned plane wrecks, the tiny country offers some of the most memorable adventure experiences in the world. Don’t forget your camera!
9. Perfect Roads
It’s easy to go long stretches of driving without passing another car. All of the roads in Iceland are extremely well maintained and landscapes they pass through are stunningly beautiful, making a road trip around the country one of the easiest and most incredible ways to experience Iceland.
10. Charming Towns
Blessed with a mix of Scandinavian and European charm, the tiny Icelandic towns dotted around the country are spectacularly beautiful. Once you get outside of Reykjavik, make sure to pop into a few little towns to get a real glimpse at Icelandic life and maybe even duck into the local pub for a sip of Icelandic beer among the locals.
11. Black Sand Beaches
It might not be perfect beach weather year-round but Iceland’s black sand beaches are a stunning site not to be missed. Vestrahorn in the East is one of the country’s most stunning stretches of sand, with large black dunes complemented by the impressive backdrop of Batman mountain.