What we know as the land of ice and fire, or more commonly as the area north of the wall in Game of Thrones, Iceland is hands-down one of the best places to travel to.
And with airlines like IcelandAir and WowAir offering extended stopovers in the country, more and more travelers are taking advantage of exploring the country’s beautiful landscapes, glaciers, hot springs, waterfalls, mountains and the Northern Lights.
*Photo by paula soler-moya
Sitting inside Skaftafell Park is Svartifoss, aka the Black Waterfall. It flows over dark lava columns and the rocks keep their hexagonal shape since they break off faster than the water can wear down the edges.
There are tons of hiking trails in the area but if you’re looking to go to the falls, you’ll have to do a 5.5 km round trip that will take about 2 hours.
*Photo by Mandy
A trip to Iceland wouldn’t be complete without soaking in at least one hot spring. Most people stop at the Blue Lagoon, but you’re looking for unique experiences skip the expensive tourist trap and head to Seljavallalaug Pool, a pool built into the side of a remote mountain, fed by natural warm water that gushes out of the side rocks.
Chances are you’ll be able to experience Seljavallalaug alone. What’s more Icelandic than sitting in a hot spring, surrounded by mountain, in the middle of nowhere!
*Photo by Daniel Sjöström
You’ll notice that most of Iceland is already off the beaten path, but the Sólheimasandur Abandoned Plane is REALLY off the beaten path. Heading to the abandoned plane will be an adventure down a black sand beach that will take you to the remote coastline where you’re able to explore the shell of a crashed DC3 plane.
Seriously though, it’s as amazing as it sounds. But be warned, if it’s been raining your car may get stuck (so it’s best to have an SUV) and if you go at night, be prepared to sleep in your car if you lose sight of the makeshift sandy road.
*Photo by Marielle Rufin
Can you stomach the cold? Well, if you’re going to Iceland you definitely should – and in that case make sure to go diving or snorkeling in the Silfra fissure. Apart from the crystal clear water with over 100 meters of visibility, it’s the only place in the world where you can snorkel/drive directly between two tectonic plates!
And if you’ve ever had the desire to be in two place at once, you will literally be floating between North America and Europe!
*Photo by Andrés Nieto Porras
Another Waterfall? Yes. But Skógafoss is a DEFINITE must see.
Apart from being an easy stop right off the ring road, the falls are breathtaking and being able to get super close also doesn’t hurt. The constant spray from the waterfalls means that there’s usually a rainbow and more often than not you’ll see a double rainbow (no pot of gold though)!
*Photo by Vincent Moschetti
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is a beautiful sight, and photographer’s love it for its blue and white tapestry of floating ice. That being said, the lagoon became popular after being cast as the set of four Hollywood movies: “A View to Kill”, “Die Another Day”,” Lara Croft: Tomb Raider”, and “Batman Begins.” It was also a destination in “The Amazing Race.”
*Photo by Steve Fernie
One of the most photographed waterfalls in all of Iceland, Seljalandsfoss has a path that runs behind it allowing you to get a completely different perspective.If winds are strong, you’ll see them pushing water back over the top of it!
It’s pretty easy to get to just off the southern Ring Road.
8. Northern Lights
*Photo by Alison Tomlin
Watching the Northern Lights dance across the night sky in shades of orange and green is truly a once in a lifetime experience. As you gaze up you’ll feel as if there is some sort of extraterrestrial force swirling the lights around leaving you completely mesmerized and speechless.
If you’re lucky, you may be able to see the Northern Lights from Reykjavik, but there are also tour companies that take you on expeditions to try and capture them. As with starlight, if you’re away from the main city, you’ll have a better chance of seeing them.
*Photo by Christophe PINARD
Strap on some crampons, grab your ice picks and venture out onto a glacier where you’ll make your way through a frozen maze of deep crevasses and massive ice formations.
Most tour operators will offer excursions to the various glaciers but if you want to kick it up a notch, sign-up for one of the ice climbing tours where you’ll get to try scaling up the side of one of these impressive formations!
*Photo by Jonathan
The Westfjords is one of Iceland’s most remote areas with dramatic landscapes, full of dramatic cliffs, dirt roads, and breathtaking coastal fjords.
The Hornstrandir hiking reserve is one of the most popular spots as it has marked trails where you’ll see arctic foxes and an abundance of birdlife. To put it in perspective, less than 15% of visitors see this beautiful part of the country. It’s not completely surprising considering the extreme weather that frequents in region – but those willing to venture to the Westfjords will get the most incredible experience of Iceland.