Iceland always makes for a spectacular experience. From the Northern Lights to the epic glaciers each turn of your journey brings unforgettable memories of the sights, sounds and flavors. Settled over a thousand years ago by the Vikings, this island sits along the mid-Atlantic ridge in the North Atlantic Ocean and has a culture deeply rooted in its ancient heritage. Pristine nature forms and stark landscapes are just the beginning. Icelandic art and culture, which draws from the ancient Sagas, continues to surprise visitors. It is a fascinating country that is sure to capture your heart.
This driving route encompasses many of Iceland's most renowned natural wonders, including Thingvellir National Park, the nation’s most historic area. Icelanders gathered here in A.D. 930 and established one of the world’s first parliaments. Also this is one of the globe’s most geologically significant landscapes. It marks the point where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet.
This beautiful cascade is one of Iceland’s most famous and picturesque waterfalls. It is an impressive sight where water falls from a sheer cliff plunging 210 feet below. What makes it even more unique is that you can see it from all sides. That’s right - have your raincoat ready as you venture behind the falls and travel along a picture- perfect walkway. You’ll not only see but also feel the power of this natural treasure.
Vatnajökull National Park:
This is home to the magnificent Vatnajokull Glacier, the largest in Iceland and in fact, the largest glacier mass in all of Europe. Underneath this huge ice cap that covers 8% of the island lies several active volcanoes. It is a fascinating place where the powerful interchange of volcanoes and glaciers or fire and ice are continually at odds.
Each year, during the winter months, the magical but elusive northern lights (aurora borealis) appear. This natural phenomenon is the product of collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth's atmosphere; the results are spectacular! Streaks of colorful light appear across the sky. This light show is truly dazzling and worth the pursuit.
On the Reykjanes Peninsula, known for its rugged landscape, lava fields, and hot springs, sits the famous Blue Lagoon. Formed during the operation of a nearby geothermal power plant, it is a place where science harmonizes with nature. The waters are renowned for their healing properties. Visitors dip in the pleasantly warm, mineral-rich waters located in the middle of a dramatic lava field in the hopes of leaving with a youthful glow.
Skogar Folk Museum:
The museum’s founder Thordur Tomasson started this museum with his personal collection of artifacts back in 1949. It has grown tremendously under his direction. Today you will find an extensive collection of tools, handicrafts, books, manuscripts, and documents. And on the grounds there is a substantial open-air museum with many traditional Icelandic buildings including a chapel and schoolhouse.
Cruise Jökulsárlón Lagoon:
This glacial lagoon is famous for its countless icebergs. The lagoon is fed from the melting waters of the massive Vatnajökull glacier. It is an incredible experience to board a small boat and venture out in the tranquil waters to get up close to these mighty chunks of ice while surrounded by immense beauty. On your adventure, you may even get the opportunity to taste the 1,000 year old glacial ice.
This Icelandic delicacy made from shark meat offers a unique window into Icelandic culture. For over 400 years, the people of Iceland have hunted the Greenland shark. The locals cure and hang the meat to dry for 4 to 5 months producing this delicacy known as “hakare.” Take the opportunity to learn the process and give it a try! It is sure to be like nothing you have ever tried before. Eating it is considered a sign of hardiness among the locals.
No fancy clothes required. Dress casual, comfortable and most importantly, in layers. The weather can change at any moment. Wind and rain are common, so I suggest packing waterproof clothes and shoes, and bringing a hooded windbreaker and an umbrella.
Everyone asks about tipping and the answer is – do not tip. At restaurants, tips are always included in your bill. The same goes with taxis, they will include the tip in your total cost. Keep in mind, some servers will be even be offended if you try to tip them.
You may find yourself wondering, is that an abandoned baby carriage, with a baby inside!? Relax, no worries, the parents are just inside dining. Yes that is right, it is Icelandic culture to leave the baby outside a café or restaurant. No need to alert the authorities, the baby is safe, and it is a common practice.