Iceland – The Mysterious Island in The Artcic Circle

There are countries on our planet that you would never think of in normal circumstances. They are usually either small or just too distant, so most of us have not quite heard of them at all. But once you become aware of their existence and finally visit them, then you stay completely amazed with their beauty. Iceland is one of those countries that are usually off the radar for most of the tourists. And this is quite unfortunate since Iceland is truly one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

The Mysterious Island

Iceland has quite a harsh name since the first things that come up your mind are some huge glaciers and probably polar bears. This does not sound like a nice place for vacation, right? Well, Iceland actually refers to an island located near the Arctic Circle in the northern Atlantic Ocean. Although the climate is quite cold, the island is not completely covered in ice as its name suggests. It actually has quite a mild winter and summers can be warm, which makes it a perfect time for visiting Iceland. The country is quite desolate, so if you are in the mood for relaxing and having a quiet vacation, then this is a place for you. Its nature and terrain are truly amazing, and if you love hiking, book yourself a ticket to Iceland.

Nevertheless, reaching Iceland is not as difficult as one might think. Iceland is isolated only on the maps, but in reality, you can visit it without any issues at all. There is a modern airport near Iceland’s capital Reykjavik with connections to all major centers in Europe and the rest of the world. And planes are the best means of transportation within the country, too. In fact, what buses and trams are for most of the other countries and cities in the world those are the planes for Iceland. You can use buses too, but it may be better to rent a car instead since you will have more freedom for exploring.

iceland diamond beach

Foggy Past of Iceland

There are not many true sources for the oldest periods of Iceland’s past. In fact, Sagas are quite often the only records about events that happened during the Middle Ages. One of those Sagas says that first men have settled here in the late 9th century from Norway, although first people who have actually reached this distant island were from Sweden. Iceland soon became an independent nation and it was used as the starting point for other exploration expeditions. Soon Greenland has been discovered as well as the shores of North America.

In the 13th century, Iceland became a part of Norwegian Empire and this union has lasted for more than half a millennium. The first ideas of reestablishing an independent Iceland began emerging during the 19th century. In 1918 Denmark and Iceland made a deal which formed a personal union between these two countries. This meant that Iceland was a semi-independent country. In 1944, Iceland finally became a completely sovereign republic.

Today, Iceland is a modern nation with one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Lately, it is starting to become one of the major tourist destinations in Europe, mostly thanks to a growing popularity for various Hollywood filmmakers. Some of the biggest blockbusters were filmed in Iceland and Star Wars and Game of Thrones are just the most notable!

iceland land of ice and fre

The Hottest Attractions in Iceland

Iceland is packed up with amazing places worth seeing, but most of them are concentrated in the southern part of the country and around the capital – Reykjavik. Since you will be probably staying in the capital, we would advise you to explore it first. There are indeed many cool places in Reykjavik one can truly enjoy visiting.

Its old town is the best starting point for your exploration. It is not big, so you can roam it on foot. Reykjavik’s architecture is absolutely unique and roaming through its streets is an awesome experience.

City Hall and Reykjavik Cathedral are among the most photographed places in the city for a good reason, of course. Imagine Peace Tower is maybe the best-known object from Reykjavik since it is a memorial to John Lenon, erected by Yoko Ono. Perlan or The Pearl is a great spot for enjoying an amazing view of the city. Here you can also find an amazing but quite expensive restaurant. National Museum and Reykjavik City Museum are great places for discovering the mysterious past of the entire Iceland and the city.

Apart from Reykjavik, be sure to explore the amazing nature of Iceland. The southern part of the island is absolutely incredible, so we would advise you to check this area. It is maybe the most picturesque region in the world with numerous astonishing waterfalls and glaciers. They are an ultimate symbol of nature at its best. You can also check out some of the most important historical sites in Iceland, which are situated in this area as well. The first of them is called Skálholt and it was the place where the bishop of Iceland used to reside in. The other spot is called Pingvellir and it is the location where ancient Icelandic parliament called Alpingi had its meetings.

These are just some of the few top attractions and locations in Iceland one should really not miss. But there are thousands of others that are equally amazing and worth seeing. Nevertheless, you will have to check out those yourself.

behind iceland waterfall

Accommodation In Iceland – The Wealth of Choice

Iceland’s incredible natural wonders attract more and more tourists every year. Tourism has boomed and for that reason, the options for accommodation are extensive with extremely high standards. At the basic level, visitors can expect clean sheets, cosy room, and a pleasant atmosphere. Even though there are many options on offer, accommodation in the whole country is booked very quickly, especially during the summer, as well as Christmas period.

The capital, Reykjavik has the widest range of possibilities when it comes to lodging, and what is more, accommodation in the Iceland’s capital suits every budget. Thus, no matter how much money you have spared for your vacation, you will surely find a suitable accommodation in Reykjavik.

If you are a fan of hotels, you will have the opportunity to choose the one you like according to your preferences and demands. So, if you have a more refined taste, we recommend you the wide arrow of luxury hotels. You may first try with The Icelandair Hotel Marina that overlooks the harbour, or Hotel Borg, located downtown with furniture in art deco style. In addition, if your budget is high, you can enjoy your stay in Hilton Reykjavik Nordic Hotel. It is placed slightly outside of the centre of Reykjavik, but its additional amenities will surely make it up for the travel to the centre.

Should you stay in the centre of the city, the best lodgings are the three and four-star hotels. They are inevitably modern, stylish and always provide you with more services than you asked for. Our recommendation is Fosshotel chains with extraordinary and well-furnished deluxe rooms and suites.

But if you want to cut down expenses on accommodation, you will have countless possibilities in Reykjavik. Some of them even have the central location within the city, hence you may check out 101 Hostels, B47 or Kex.

The tourists who want to stay in Iceland’s capital for a longer period should consider renting an apartment. Staying in Downtown Reykjavik Apartments or Apartment K may save you money, and the service will be more than excellent.

As for the Golden Circle and the South Coast, hotels in this range exceed all expectations. Since visitors usually plan to stay more than one day around the Geysir Geothermal Area, Gullfoss Waterfall and Pingvellir National Park, accommodation is almost always full. However, some of the new hotels are being built, so 2018 is the year of expanding the accommodation capacities in the south of the country.

If you are one of those who plans to stay in the Golden Circle and the South of Iceland, you may wish to consider some of the hotels in advance. At Geysir, you may try with Geysir Cottages or Hotel Litli Geysir. Should you stay little closer to the waterfall, contact the polite staff at Hotel Gullfoss or Hotel Borealis. Those who prefer to stay near the Pingvellir National Park may choose between several kinds of accommodation including villas, bungalows, and standard rooms. It is up to you to choose your preferences, but you will surely have a broad arrow of available lodging possibilities in Iceland.

iceland hotels

Cuisine – Make Sure You Try the Traditional Meals

Being surrounded by ocean makes Iceland a country whose cuisine consists mainly of seafood. However, ingredients of Icelandic cuisine also include lamb and dairy. In case you are a gourmet, don’t hesitate to try the most popular dishes in the country. For instance, tourists don’t miss the chance to taste Hangikjot – or in other words, smoked lamb. Special emphasis is put exactly on Hangikjot due to the old-fashioned way of farming sheep. The dish is served with potatoes, green peas, red beets and bechamel sauce. Foreigners simply adore it, hence you should also give it a try.

Skyr, or a soft-cheese, is another must while in Iceland. Some even call it a yogurt, and they may be close since it is made of gelatinous milk curds. It is usually mixed with Icelandic blueberries, milk, and sugar, and visitors to Iceland are thrilled with it.

Kjotsupa is another lamb dish, prepared in a way that one needs to cut the meat into pieces and boil it with rice, carrots, onions, turnips, potatoes, and spices. Kjotsupa requires a long boiling process, but it is more than tasty, and locals eat it several times in a week. They even like it more when the dish stays overnight.

Of course, all kinds of fish are readily available in almost all the restaurants in the country. So, you may taste the fish you have never dreamed of tasting. And you will surely be satisfied since the Icelandic are the masters of preparing perfect fish.

And if you are ready to taste the dishes that no other country offers, then make sure to find a restaurant that serves svid, hrutspungar, hakarl, horse and skata. Let us know how these dishes taste.

iceland waterfalls

Things To Do In Iceland

Apart from sightseeing, exploring the beautiful natural wonders and visiting the memorable waterfalls, Iceland still offers other unforgettable activities to all those who visit the beautiful country surrounded by the ocean. One such activity is a whale watching tour. You may depart from Reykjavik and the excursion lasts for several hours. Whales simply enjoy swimming in the cold North Atlantic ocean, so be sure to get your cameras ready because there will be enough time to capture some great photos.

Horseback riding tours are also a very popular type of activity in Iceland. The horses in Iceland are quite small, so they are usually called ponies. These animals are kind and beautiful, as well as easier to ride, so get yourself ready for some horseback riding.

In case you are traveling to Iceland during winter, an inevitable activity is to book the Northern Light Tour. The best results come when the sky is clear and many people mark this activity as a must.

There are countless other activities and events that readily await the tourists, so you just need to tick the ones you are interested in and want to explore. Good luck with your visit to Iceland!!

kirkjufell iceland guide