Paul has been a passionate traveler for over 35 years and has visited many places and countries in North America, Europe, and elsewhere.
Iceland has become a hugely popular destination for travelers in recent times. I have been there four times and it has become a particular favorite.
While the Nordic island country has become more expensive than it used to be, and it certainly may not meet some people's idea of a conventional vacation, its appeal comes from the many attractions available there that simply cannot be found anywhere else.
10 Reasons Why You Should Go to Iceland
Here are my top 10 things that I love about Iceland.
- See the Scenery
- Watch the Puffins
- Hike to a Volcano
- Enjoy the Food
- Appreciate the History and Culture
- Visit the Quirky Museums
- Bathe in a Geothermic Pool
- Experience the Geysers
- Meet Icelandic Horses
- Explore Reykjavík
I look at each reason in more detail below.
1. See the Scenery
The scenery in Iceland is quite simply stunning. It has an almost surreal beauty.
If you've never been before and time is limited, I would heartily recommend the Golden Circle, which begins and ends at the capital city of Reykjavík. You will see the Geysir geothermal area, Gullfoss waterfall, Þingvellir national park, the world-famous Blue Lagoon geothermal pool, and many more incredible sights. It's a truly unique and awe-inspiring experience.
2. Watch the Puffins
Although puffins can be found living in other areas of the world, Iceland has the world's biggest population.
Booking a boat tour and seeing these extraordinary, interesting and cute birds in their natural habitat is educational, as well as great fun. You can watch their somewhat clumsy attempts to get airborne, and pairs of puffins rubbing their beaks together, a behavior known as "billing", it's something that you have got to see.
3. Hike to a Volcano
For those who aren't aware, Iceland sits on a geological fault line, and was formed through eruptions of lava. There are many volcanoes, most are inactive, but some still like to spew smoke and lava, and you can see them. At the time of writing, perhaps the most exciting active volcano to see is called Geldingadalur and can be experienced via a guided hike.
4. Enjoy the Food
Iceland has some fantastic and interesting food for those who like to give their tastebuds a treat. There are traditional foods like skyr, a form of Icelandic yogurt, newer foods such as pylsur, Reykjavik's hot dog, and Harðfiskur, essentially fish that has been dried and cured outside. There are also lots of lamb and seafood dishes, ice cream, and a special form of rye bread that is cooked by the heat of hot springs.
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5. Appreciate the History and Culture
Icelanders are direct descendants of Vikings who began settling the island in the 9th century.
The island's impressive history and culture can be explored through some excellent museums, such as the Saga Museum (Sögusafnið), which employs life-like replicas of historical figures to recreate important events from Iceland’s history.
The Settlement Exhibition, a subterranean museum created around an archaeological dig that uncovered fascinating details of Viking life, is also worth visiting.
6. Visit the Quirky Museums
As well as the more traditional, history-orientated museums, Iceland also has some very quirky ones. For instance, there's a subterranean Punk Museum, which is housed in a former public toilet.
The Phallological Museum is worth a visit too, if you are searching for something unusual. It boasts 300 penises from over 100 different species of mammal, as well as 22 penises from creatures and peoples of Icelandic folklore(!)
7. Bathe in a Geothermic Pool
Bathing in water that is heated geothermally is part of Icelandic culture and something that simply must be experienced. Perhaps the most famous of the geothermic pools is the Blue Lagoon, located in a lava field on the Reykjanes Peninsula, not far from Reykjavík, but there are many more. It's a fun and relaxing way to spend a late afternoon or early evening after a day of hiking and sightseeing.
8. Experience the Geysers
Compared to most countries, Iceland has more than its fair share of mind-blowing natural phenomena, and geysers are one of those features that you just have to experience.
Strokkur is currently the most active geyser. Every five to ten minutes it blasts up water to heights of 15, 20 meters or more. It's an awesome demonstration of the power of nature. It can be found in the Geysir Geothermal Area, not far from the Great Geysir, which gave its name to all the others.
9. Meet Icelandic Horses
Icelandic horses are an adorable breed of horse particular to the island. A hardy, intelligent and independent animal, it is difficult not to love them as much as the Icelanders do. The horse's ancestors arrived with the Vikings and feature in the country's mythology, culture and literature. As they were transported to the island on boats, they were likely chosen for their short but sturdy stature.
10. Explore Reykjavík
Iceland's capital, Reykjavík is a cute and cool city with plenty to see and a fun, interesting, and friendly place to explore. You will find some unique architecture, quirky museums, as well as some excellent restaurants, and a bustling nightlife.
On top of that, it's a very safe city to walk around and experience. And if you are there in Winter and want to see the Northern Lights, there's a great viewing place called the Grotta Lighthouse just a couple of miles outside of downtown Reykjavík.
© 2021 Paul Goodman