Iceland’s arctic wilderness has long been captivating the adventurous traveller. In a country famed for its unspoiled landscapes and natural wonders, it’s not difficult to see why.
Whether you’re exploring the famed Golden Circle – a 300 km tourist route covering many of the major sights – or heading off the beaten track, you’re guaranteed an unforgettable holiday. Here are four of the best natural attractions that you won’t want to miss if you visit Iceland.
1. Thingvellir National Park
An expanse of rugged countryside unlike anywhere else on the planet, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is guaranteed to impress. Aside from its jaw-dropping scenery, visitors can partake in a one-of-a-kind experience. Located on a rift valley known as Silfra, the crystal clear lake is above the point where two tectonic plates separate.
This affords the unique opportunity to take a scuba diving adventure directly over the Mid-Atlantic Ridge in waters that offer clear visibility. And the glacial water is also home to marine species found nowhere else in the world.
Another attraction on the Golden Circle route, this hot spring has become one of the country’s most famous attractions. Although it’s now inactive, the surrounding springs make for an unforgettable sight.
Every 10 minutes, the largest spring “Strokkur” sends jets of water up to a height of 30 metres while mud baths bubble away in the background. The intellectually curious can learn more at the recently opened visitor’s centre, which also gives information on other nearby attractions.
Travel to one of the country’s most remote regions and you’ll be one of the lucky few to experience the untamed beauty of the Westfjords. This rugged landscape features coastal roads meeting spectacular mountains and beautifully clear fjords. Nature lovers will also consider this region to be paradise, as it is home to a large puffin colony where you can see these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.
Connected to the rest of the country by a 7 km stretch of land, the Westfjords see very few tourists. For this reason, it can be good to travel in a group or explore with a local guide to enjoy the remarkable sights on offer.
4. Gullfoss Waterfall
The wet climate and volcanic terrain of Iceland provides the perfect conditions for waterfalls. Although there are many waterfalls across the country, Gullfoss on the Golden Circle is one of the most scenic.
Aptly translated as ‘Golden Falls’, the flowing water has a golden shimmer for those lucky enough to visit on a sunny day. It may be due to glacial sediment but it offers an almost magical sight. It is actually two falls coming together into a staggering flow of water, which makes a 32 metre drop into a rocky crevasse.
We’ve barely scratched the surface of Iceland’s beauty. There are heaps of natural wonders to admire in this stunning country. Take a once in a lifetime holiday to Iceland and you won’t be disappointed!
Looking for accommodation? Check out the 10 best places to stay in Iceland.