Situated in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean just West of Norway, Iceland is a rapidly growing tourist destination among backpackers and luxury travellers alike. Perhaps best known for her natural beauty and luxurious geothermal pools, Iceland is home to a diverse array of landscapes and adventurous activities.
Iceland is by far one of my favourite travel destinations – Here’s are 17 reasons to fall in love with Iceland this year:
It’s the Perfect Road-trip Destination:
Iceland is definitely the perfect road-trip destination! The roads are easy to navigate, the country is small enough to get some serious miles in and the views are incredible! Regardless of the season or direction you are headed, the scenery along Iceland’s ring road is to-die-for. Every now and then, snow-capped mountains or gushing waterfalls peek through fog or clouds alongside the highway, offering the perfect photography opportunities.
Plus, a road trip through Iceland makes for quite the adventure! Chase the summer midnight sun or winter northern lights, camp under the stars, or simply drive and enjoy the views! I rented an all-wheel drive SUV for my winter road trip from SADCars and was not disappointed! Check them out for 15% off your online reservation.
It’s a photographer’s dream:
Regardless of whether you are hiking in the capital city or driving down the highway, Iceland will reward you with epic views.
The country side has a rustic beauty with farms and cottages situated at the base of mountains. Bright cabins add a splash of colour to a whimsical field or rolling hills. I could hardly resist stopping to take pictures along the way – who can blame me with scenery as magnificent as this?
If you’re like me and you like to avoid the crowds, there are many beautiful places in the country for you to seek peace and quiet (or the perfect instagram photo!). It’s not hard to find solitude outside of Reykjavik, considering 1/3 of Iceland’s entire national population resides in the capital city.
From Vikings and ghosts to elves, Iceland has a rich history and interesting culture to discover. There are countless museums, open air exhibits and galleries in Reykjavik and beyond for you to gain perspective on both Iceland’s past and current society. There are even unique tours and workshops to help you delve into curious beliefs of ghosts and elves, or retrace the country’s history through time.
The Horses…enough said:
Icelandic horses have become iconic. The majestic and fluffy horses can be seen all over the country side (and instagram!). You can even explore lesser-known areas on horseback tours or stay on a horse farm for a night or two for a more rustic experience.
There are Hot Pools EVERYWHERE:
Reykjavik has an interesting combination of modern urban flair infused with cultural traditions. For example, trendy restaurants and shops exist all over the city, while the old custom of soaking in a hot pool continues to thrive. Sit in a cafe and people watch or grab a bowl of the local soup and finish your afternoon with a soak in one of Iceland’s beloved hot pools.
Natural geothermal pools:
What could be better than Iceland’s hot pools? Their natural geothermal pools. Hidden around the beautiful countryside are outdoor hot pots and hot streams, offering unique ways to relax post-adventure, star gaze or watch the northern lights.
The coffee is damn good:
Everyone says that Icelandic coffee is to-die-for. I’m not really sure why because I don’t think coffee beans are native in Iceland, so the coffee really isn’t ‘Icelandic’ – but guess what? The coffee really was that good! Plus there are endless hipster cafes and cozy coffee shops to sip your jetlag away, warm up in after a hike, or simply just relax and people watch!
It offers a ‘natural high’:
For the adrenaline junkie, a visit to Iceland offers plentiful opportunities for adventure! From stunning mountain range treks, glacial hikes, kayaking through a fjord, scuba diving, rappelling down a volcano, helicopter touring above the landscapes or even exploring the countryside by horse, there are endless ways to get outdoors and chase that rush.
There are TONS of waterfalls:
If you’re into chasing waterfalls, well, Iceland’s got you covered. With 30+ recorded waterfalls, and I’m guessing countless more hidden gems, you can chase to your little heart’s content!
You can even walk behind the Seljalandsfoss waterfall if you’re not afraid to get a little wet!
It’s budget friendly:
Iceland is known for being one of the most expensive countries in the world. However there are definitely ways to get around this for those with a budget in mind. Many of my favourite activities in Reykjavik were entirely FREE.
These include hiking Reykjavik’s wooded trails, walking along the beaches, taking photographs of the mountains, enjoying the view at Perlan’s observation deck, seeing the ducks and swans at the central city pond, taking the free city walking tour, checking out the town’s library and marina!
Iceland is home to many gorgeous and diverse beaches, but what draws many tourists is the allure of its unique black sand beaches! Even during winter, a walk up and down the beach is incredibly beautiful.
Iceland is impeccably clean! You will notice no trash or litter on the streets and your lungs will immediately feel the fresh, unpolluted, costal air. In fact, I felt so healthy while in Reykjavik that I decided to write an entire post about all the health conscious activities I did in the city!
Iceland emphasizes sustainability. It utilizes geothermal energy sources via underground reservoirs of steam and hot water to generate electricity, which is both efficient and environmentally friendly. In addition, Iceland’s recycling game is on another level – not only do citizens recycle, but they separate paper, plastics and tin from organics and electronics. Even hostels and street corners offer separate bins to promote convenient recycling.
It’s Veggie Friendly:
Despite rumours of locals eating sheep heads and puffin (in some cases this is true), there are tons of vegetarian and vegan options! Reykjavik’s dining and cafe scene offers up some serious food inspo and is surprisingly one of the more accommodating countries I’ve been to for vegan food.
There is something so special and inspiring about being outdoors – particularly, time spent in untouched nature. When surrounded by stunning landscapes, I never fail to leave with new perspective on whatever issue I’d been dealing with and a more balanced attitude.
With Iceland’s National Parks, famous beaches, towering mountains and sky-high waterfalls, you are sure to feel inspired. Prepare to harness this feeling throughout your entire trip!
All in all, Iceland is a stunningly beautiful, one-of-a-kind travel destination with interesting culture, diverse activities and welcoming locals – seriously, do yourself a favour and plan a visit this year!
This post was sponsored by Loft Reykjavik Hi Hostel
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