Think Iceland, and what springs to mind? Disruptive volcanic ash, a Baltic sounding climate or- probably now- a surprisingly successful football team?!
Well this little country has a lot more to offer than that. For such a tiny place (population 323,000) Iceland has a hugely varied landscape of volcanoes, rugged peaks and fjordlands all begging to be explored. Coupled with the country’s reputation for being one of the friendliest, safest and most interesting places in the world, it makes it a seriously memorable place to visit.
We’ve come up with a list of things that make this country such a big hit for outdoor lovers, and why those who have experienced Iceland keep going back for more.
1. The Hiking
With an abundance of jagged peaks and National parks, you’re absolutely spoilt for choice if you love hiking and climbing. Thorsmork (below)is a mountain ridge that’s named after the Norse god, Thor, and the name certainly fits the view. Wild camping is also permitted in Iceland, so if you want to get really close to Mother Nature then look no further.
2. The ICE
Although the majority of Iceland is in fact not ice, there was some logic behind the name. There are actually 13 glaciers and ice caps covering over 11% of the land area, and if you want to see it up close, you can find glacier walking trips, ice climbing, and ice caving tours. Another stunner is the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, a strikingly blue glacial lake dotted with bits of iceberg and even the occasional seal.
3. Road Trip Potential
Many of the must-see places in Iceland are fairly spread apart with a good bit of driving in between. This makes it the ideal excuse to get a camper van and enjoy the outdoors both day and night. Whilst it’s a cold country, you can get yourself kitted out with a warm camper and have loads more fun than you would in a hotel. Check out the 7 day trip of Kinging-It.com travel vloggers Craig and Aimee who did exactly this.
Like most islands, its unsurprising that water sports aren’t too hard to find here. But surfing, sailing, rafting or sea swimming are made all the more exciting when surrounded by snow capped mountains or broken icebergs. Another huge hit with adventure lovers in Iceland is snorkeling, as the crystal clear water allows you to see incredible lava formations under the water.
5. The Volcanic Activity
It’s well known that Iceland is home to active volcanoes, (one in particular may have delayed a flight of yours a few years ago) but the volcanic activity doesn’t stop there. Top spots are the explosive geysers which spontaneously propel hot water into the air, and the lakes inside previous volcanoes such as the Kerid Crater below. This lake is also heated by the volcanoes around, it making it pleasant enough for a swim in summer!
6. The Northern Lights
This one seals the deal for many people considering trips to Iceland- the chance to see one of Nature’s wonders. Its not guaranteed that you’ll catch them, but if you’re lucky its well well worth it.
If you’re a fan of cycling and biking of any kind there are some amazing tours and trips to go on in Iceland. Serious bikers can cruise the country via fat-bike, with super size tyres to absorb the rugged landscape. For the even more extreme, there are heli-biking companies that drop you off perched on top of the mountain ranges to save you the upwards trek (but you still have to get down! )
8. The Waterfalls
Another amazing feature to check off on your travels around Iceland. There are stunning waterfalls all over the country, the Gullfoss being the most popular. In this case two waterfalls collide from different angles creating an almost permanent rainbow.
Whilst the idea of peace and quiet with no sighting of other humans can often be appealing on an adventure trip, the general consensus is that the Icelandic people are extremely friendly, welcoming and really interesting. Some people in Iceland actually believe in elves, and respect them to the point that they won’t build houses in areas where they are believed to live.
10. You Can Do It In A Long Weekend
For those of us living in the UK, Iceland is less than three hours away, making it easy enough to jump on a plane and cram as many activities as possible into a long weekend. Your only problem will be tearing yourself away at the end!
Been to Iceland and done something we’ve missed? Feel free to let us know below!
If this has fired up your itchy feet, don’t forget to check out www.odysseon.com where you can take a look at some of our expeditions and trips leaving this summer and beyond.