Visit Iceland – the country not the store

If you’ve ever considered a break with a bit of a difference you should consider a trip to Iceland. Aptly called the “Land of fire and ice”, Iceland is just 3 hours away from the UK by plane and has some of the most spectacular scenery formed by its volcanic geology. Given its location on the volcanically unstable Mid-Atlantic Ridge, Iceland has numerous active volcanoes including Hekla, Eldgjá, Herðubreið, and Eldfell. If you want to get a real taste for Iceland, split your time between the South Coast and Snaefellsnes peninsula.  South coast tours in Iceland are some of the most popular because they allow you to take in some of the most iconic scenery associated with Iceland, from glaciers to hot springs and lava fields.

Sandhólshver of Hveragerði

If you head south to the peninsula of Snæfellsnes you’ll find a glacial lagoon unique in Europe and likely in all the northern hemisphere. Hot springs abound along the south coast with the Sandhólshver of Hveragerði considered a must see by seasoned Icelandic travellers. On your way to or from the airport, you could also take the unpaved road that passes Lake Kleifarvatn, and experience the hot springs of Seltún – also known as Krýsuvík or Krísuvík.

If you want to take in a variety of stunning Icelandic waterfalls, as well as the Hveragerdi geothermal area and hot river, the glacial lagoon, Jokulsarlon. Snaefellsnes peninsula has some of the most spectacular scenery. You’ll find pink sandy beaches and areas where you can also hike through lava fields along the coast. Once you’ve finished your hike, you can relax in one of the many secluded hot springs along the way and let your aching muscles recover.

Snaefellsjokull Glacier

If you fancy some vigorous exercise again, why not try a hike up a glacier at Snaefellsjokull. You can do a day tour of this legendary glacier, and have an exhilarating adventure in the process taking in the ‘microcosm of Iceland’. Considered the crown jewel of the peninsula, once Snaefellsjokull it comes into sight you’ll understand why. An enormous volcano with 2 peaks which are ice-capped all year round. Used as the setting for Jules Verne’s ‘Journey to the centre of the earth’, it’s not hard to see why it is a popular Icelandic haunt! Whilst a challenging hike, you’ll be amply rewarded by the views atop the glacier from the West Fjords in the north, to the Peninsula of Reykjanes in the south across the ocean.  

Peninsula of Snæfellsnes

Some Icelanders call the Snaefellsnes peninsula “Iceland in miniature” because it has most of Iceland’s attractions you can find throughout the country (a glacier, waterfalls, green mountains, and coloured sandy beaches, lava fields, hot pots as well as puffins, and all in a relatively small area accessible from Reykjavik. You can take a guided day tour or do a 9-day self-drive tour which will enable you to take in the sites and sounds of the glaciers and volcanic areas at your own pace. A geothermal spa, the Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa which is undoubtedly one of the most popular attractions in the whole of Iceland. Temperatures of the water are a cosy 37 degrees Centigrade and once you’ve relaxed and worked up an appetite swimming there’s a wonderful restaurant where you can relax and enjoy the wonderful array of Icelandic fayre.

Northern Lights

One trip not to miss is a visit to the golden circle, the ice caves, and the Northern Lights. In 3 days, you’ll get to see the Geysir Geothermal area, and glacier lagoon and explore the icy and cathedral depths of ice caves which only form throughout the winter. You’ll not be lost for stunning photographic opportunities. If you’re interested in seeing the great outdoors and experiencing a variety of mountains, valleys, glacier fields, caves, and hot geysers, Iceland has it all. There are so many tours and activities you’ll never be short of things to do including snowmobiling, swimming, and hiking.

Retail therapy in Reykjavik

You can even fit in some retail therapy in Reykjavik or take in some local culture and history at the National Museum. Or if you’re still craving the great outdoors, why not try a horse-riding trip or a whale watching trip where you’ll get to observe whales in their natural habitat. Whatever trip you decide to take, be sure to bring some warm and comfortable clothes and shoes so you can get into the spirit of Iceland and truly soak it up! Iceland will live in your soul and you’ll want to return again and again to capture its essence on your next trip!

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