I still can’t believe it’s been 5 whole weeks since my amazing trip to Iceland and the wanderlust is still lingering for another trip. I can’t get over how amazing Iceland was and the beautiful scenery that surrounds you there. I wanted to write about all of my recommended things you need to do when you visit Iceland. They are all free and some may require a fair amount of travelling to whether it be via your hire car or an organised tour.
Gullfoss is the closest waterfall to Reykjavik and is the 4th tallest waterfall reaching a height of 32m and is rumoured to be used for creating geothermal energy but that rumour has been shot down. When the sun is shining down on Gullfoss the spray from the waterfall creates a beautiful rainbow which spans the whole length of the waterfall. There is a nice little path which takes you down towards the waterfall a little further so you can get a better look at it and also a perfect opportunity for pictures.
Skogafoss is the 2nd tallest waterfall reaching a height of 60m. According to legend, the first Viking settler in the area, Þrasi Þórólfsson, buried a treasure in a cave behind the waterfall. The legend continues that locals found the chest years later, but were only able to grasp the ring on the side of the chest before it disappeared again. The ring was allegedly given to the local church. The old church door ring is now in a museum, though whether it gives any credence to the folklore is debatable. At the eastern side of the waterfall, a hiking and trekking trail leads up to the pass Fimmvörðuháls between the glaciers Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull. This waterfall is based with a campsite around it in which you can stay in overnight. It’s quite a drive from Reykjavik so make sure you are prepared to stay overnight if you are going to drive to the furthest part south of the island.
Seljalandsfoss is the 2nd tallest waterfall alongside Skogafoss, measuring again at 60m. This waterfall you can walk behind to get stunning views of the scenery with the water running in front of you. I warn you – you’ll need to wear waterproof clothing as you do get very wet when standing near the waterfall and also make sure you wear suitable footwear with grips as the floor surrounding can get very slippy and is very uneven. The water’s origin is from the volcano glacier Eyjafjallajökull which erupted back in 2010 that caused the massive ash cloud over Europe.
This is probably one of the biggest glaciers in Iceland and its peak reaches the height of 1,493m. The icecap of the glacier covers an active volcano called Katla. The caldera of the volcano has a diameter of 10 km (6 mi) and the volcano erupts usually every 40–80 years. The last eruption took place in 1918. Scientists are actively monitoring the volcano, particularly after the eruption of nearby Eyjafjallajökull began in April 2010. Since the year 1930, 16 eruptions have been documented. This glacier is receding by 500m a year due to global warming. You can even book an excursion to walk on the glacier with a specialist team who provide you with lots of safety gear.
JOKULSARLON GLACIER LAGOON
Probably the highlight of my Iceland trip and one that I will never forget. A whole lagoon filled with stunning blue and white icebergs that have broken off the Jokulsarlon glacier over the years to create a ice berg filled lagoon. All the icebergs are different shapes and sizes, you can even break a small piece off and eat the fresh cold ice. This tourist attraction is one of natural beauty that is completely and utterly breathtaking.
DC-3 PLANE WRECKAGE
This attraction was quite a hike to get to, which actually used to be a drive but the landowner suddenly stopped people driving to it and you now have to park your car in a small car park and walk to the plane wreckage and back to the car park – you can only drive up to the plane wreckage if you are on a private tour. In 1973 a United States Navy DC plane ran out of fuel and crashed on the black beach at Sólheimasandur, in the South coast of Iceland. Fortunately, everyone in that plane survived. The remains are still on the sand very close to the sea. All that’s left is the plane’s fuselage amid rumours a local farmer stole the tail to mysteriously sell it on. The exact reason for the crash is not known, although some sources suggest the plane simply ran out of fuel after the pilot switched to the wrong fuel tank. The interior of the DC-3 plane has been completely gutted of seats and any hallmarks of a military aircraft by 40 years of extreme weather, it’s surprising that the exterior is still in tact for well over 40 years of severe weather conditions.
It is sometimes known as The Great Geysir, is a geyser in southwestern Iceland. It was the first geyser described in a printed source and the first known to modern Europeans. Eruptions at Geysir can hurl boiling water up to 70 meters in the air every 6 – 10 minutes. The Geysir has had it’s activity affected by earthquakes over the years.
REYKJADALUR NATURAL HOT SPRING
If you don’t fancy spending a fortune on entrance tickets to the Blue Lagoon, I definitely recommend checking out this natural hot spring. It’s quite a hike to get to but it’s totally worth it in the end for a natural hot bath spring in the middle of the mountains with wild sheep surrounding. With the warm sun blazing down it’s the perfect place for a relaxing bath. It’s about a 40 minute drive from Reykjavik and the scenery doesn’t disappoint. I do have to warn you, you have to brave the strong sulphur smells but the view and experience on the other side is definitely worth it.
Unfortunately we didn’t get the chance to climb to the top for the stunning views of Reykjavik but we did go in the church and explore the architecture inside. Perhaps the most iconic part of the Reykjavik skyline and top of every tourists list is this stunning church. The columns around the church were inspired by Svartifoss black waterfall in South Iceland. If you want to go up to the top for great photo opportunities of the city, admission is 900kr / = £6.52.
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What would you most like to do if you visit Iceland? What do you recommend doing in Iceland if you’ve been?