This post is officially for all of my fellow travelers out there so that when you get a chance to go to Iceland and you take advantage of it (and I say WHEN because if you are a true wanderlust heart you will find yourself in this situation) now you can not say that I didn’t warn you that you WILL fall in love with Iceland. If you take Iceland in, in the proper way or to the best of your ability (which I will explain further) it will be impossible not to fall head over heels for it.
I know that majority of the places I share on here and travel to I say I love them. If you notice carefully though there are only a couple places that I have said I have actually fallen IN love with. Anyone that knows me, for example, knows that I am completely in love with Greece and everything Greek. Also Istanbul is another top favorite. Well Iceland officially made it into my Top 3 favorite places when I visited this beautiful country at the end of my 10 month European Adventure this past May. Below are a few of the reasons why Iceland is like NO OTHER place on Earth.
#1- The Blue Lagoon
If you have looked into going to Iceland at all, I am sure you have seen or heard of this stunning blue spa. It is Iceland’s top spot and from first hand experience I see why. This spa is created from all natural land made up of lava that shapes the pools and is filled with water that is made of 3 parts algae, sulfur, and silica. Although the land and lava is natural occurring the water itself is actually run off from a nearby geothermal plants but is rich in tons of minerals that hold many health benefits. So you can just imagine soaking in this vibrant blue water, warming you up to the perfect temp, while also benefiting from several great side effects like helping clear your skin and other things, yet being in the middle of a giant lava field in the cool crisp air, is quite the experience.
#2- Icelandic State Parks and Natural Wonders
Besides the Blue Lagoon, with out a doubt the one thing that makes Iceland stand out from any other place in the world is it’s natural beauty and wonders. You will find yourself trying to hunt for a million ways to say, “wow this is beautiful,” especially since those words just don’t do it even half justice. I have never been to a place with as much breath taking, God given nature, as a place such as this. We found this evident in just our first day when we visited Pingvellir State Park after the Blue Lagoon.
Pingvellir represents a national shrine for Iceland. It is most known for it’s unexpected tectonics plates that is hosts. Basically, it is super easy to see clear evidence of the continental drift between North American and Eurasian plates from a huge crack in between the two continents creating a sort of canyon. Super cool!
#3- The Town of Reykjavik
I had many expectations about many of the sites I wanted to make sure I saw and visited but I didn’t do much research about the actual city that we were staying in which was actually an extremely pleasant surprise! Reykjavik, the capitol of Iceland is the perfect central city to stay in. I say “central city” because I haven’t highlighted yet how vast Iceland’s land is. I started this post by saying if you take Iceland in in the proper way then you will fall in love with it. What I mean by “proper” is that there are some things to look at and be aware of before visiting here, if not it will catch you off guard. One of these things is that you have to be willing to go the lengths to see most of Iceland’s best points. Most of the sites we saw we had to spend 6-7 hours by bus to travel to. So you have to be willing to either rent a car or ride hours on a bus and pay the price (not cheap), to really encounter what Iceland is all about.
So back to Reykjavik. Not only is it awesome because it is a great central location to stay in for adventuring around but it is also a really neat town. One thing I was obsessed with, which if you followed my snapchat story from this trip, was hard to miss…was their adorable tin houses. I am such an architecture lover and I thought the different colors of the tin buildings and homes added such character to the town. Oh and speaking of architecture take a peak at the photos from Reykjavik’s main church below. Mind blown. This is the Hallgrimskirkja Church. The shape of the building is supposed to represent one of Iceland’s famous waterfalls but looks more like a spaceship to me haha!
The actual architecture and shape of the buildings is eye catching in this city but there’s more. One of the most unexpected things I think was the street art culture. Besides Berlin, I think this is one of the top cities I have visited with such a strong street art culture…love!!!
Oh, don’t even get me started on Iceland’s theories of trolls and fairies. They truly believe in these funny little things. I’m not saying whether its true or not but I can’t even get into it because this could cause a whole other blog post so you may have to look up this one yourself ha.
Here’s an example of a super cute tin house that I was talking about before.
Oh you know, just walking across hundreds of years old lava rocks. Another thing I had no idea about before visiting Iceland…that majority of it is made up of it is made up of lava and volcanic structures actually.
Okay, just a couple more things that I loved about Reykjavik before moving on. One, there also is some really cool shopping down the main streets of the town. It is filled with hip cafes, and fashionable shops. The fashion of Iceland is very unique and made it really fun to pop in and out of stores. Above all the other things I mentioned though, I think what made Reykjavik so impressive was amongst the hustle of bustle of the downtown area was the outskirts of the town- which is comprised of looming cliffs that at any moment look like they could move closer yet seem so so far. I made sure to take some time to just sit by the water and look at these cliffs and really marvel at life, and God, and nature.
#4- The Icelandic Countryside
Alright clearly I could go on and on about this magnificent place so I will try to keep this next one short and sweet. Basically the country side of Iceland makes the 6-7 hour bus rides in between destinations worth all the drive. This magical land will make you feel like you fell inside an episode of Game Of Thrones, no joke. Just take a look for yourself.
#5- The Wonderful Waterfalls
Well, there is a reason Iceland is called Iceland after all. Because there is a lot of ice. And because of this “lot of ice” the ice melts and forms all different forms of water. I won’t be the first to say it and I know I won’t be last but Iceland really has a ton of water. From thermal pools, to lakes and rivers, in my opinion the greatest is the waterfalls. Also the reason for the title of this post. The images in my mind and the feeling in heart of standing in front of these awe-inspiring features is/was unforgettable. Iceland has hundreds of them and there is always new ones popping up but I will specifically highlight two that I had a chance to really explore.
First is Skogafoss. One of Iceland’s most popular waterfalls. The magnitude of height of this waterfall was unbelievable making it easy to contradict TLC’s popular belief of “don’t go chasing waterfalls,” but rather…do. Because it is an incredible feeling. Feeling the mist breeze against your body, catching the sun hit the mist just right creating the most beautiful and prominent rainbows ever seen, and hearing the rushing water is indescribable.
And the second waterfall which is pictured below is called Seljalandsfoss. This is most likely so popular because of it’s horse show shape, making it possible to actually hike/walk directly behind the falling water. How many people can say they have stood directly behind a waterfall before. Take a look!!
#6- Glacier Lagoon Excursion
Okay last but definitely not least is number six on the list. Trust me this list was so hard to make. I keep saying everything was amazing, and beautiful and magnificent but man, it truly was haha. The experiences I had were truly like none other, I could compare a single place to this magical and majestic land and if I wasn’t already blown away by everything I had seen and done I ended the trip with one last exploration. Not to sound dramatic but seeing the glacier lagoon was actually life changing. There is just something about seeing the receding ice bergs and hearing the ice crack that really makes you appreciate the God given Earth that we were gifted.
Basically, at the glacier lagoon they offer super fun boat tours into the actual lagoon aka the lake formed from all the melted ice. While on the excursion you are amongst the giant icebergs and the distinct landscape of Jökulsárlón. We were even lucky enough that we got to see some seals!!
The tour guides are witty and knowledgeable and took some time to explain to us the history of this not so old lagoon that has happened due to the warming climate. The surface is at sea level and sea water flows into the lagoon at high tide. Huge blocks of ice are constantly breaking off from the glacier and our tour guide even picked up a huge chunk out of the lagoon to chip pieces off so that we all could taste a little bite of it. Pretty salty as you could imagine. This is a definite must do!
Bonus- Strokkur and the Great Geysir
Well, if you noticed I said I was going to highlight 6 reasons to add Iceland to your bucket list which is what I originally had posted but when I took a second look at this post earlier today, I realized that I had missed including one of this places’s most breathtaking phenomenons! The two great geysirs of Iceland. “The English word geyser to describe a spouting hot spring derives from Geysir (which itself is derived from the Icelandic verb gjósa meaning to erupt. The English verb gush is probably related to that word).
When you first arrive at this marvel you pull up to a land filled with hundreds of hot springs and multicolored mud pots. It is the craziest thing to see the wet ground bubble and steam in front of you own two eyes. Then as you walk through the valley you stumble upon where there is a most likely a small group of people gathered hold their breath. Waiting for the Strokkur geyser to perform it’s exhilarating show that goes off about every 10 min. Seeing a real live geyser is the neatest thing. One minute you are holding your breath and next the water sky rockets and so does your blood pressure as you yourself feel a bit of a rush. I couldn’t talk about Iceland without highlighting this cool place.
All in all, Iceland is a place that was top on my bucket list but I genuinely never imagined I would experience it this early in my life. I hope this post really helps one see how it can so truly capture a person’s soul. The incomparable experience of the Blue lagoon will leave you wanting to go back over and over again. The unexpected character of the town of Reykjavik will forever leave an imprint in your mind. The grace and beauty and wonder of the waterfalls will light your heart on fire and may even cause you your own water works in your eyes. The rush of the unpredictable Strokkur Geysir will make your spirit soar as high as the boiled up water erupts itself and the significance of the glacier lagoon will leave you breathless. This is why I say, personally, with out a doubt this magical and majestic island WILL make you fall in love. Xoxo Mikaela