Not too long ago, Iceland was one of those underrated, off-the-beaten-track destinations that prompted plenty of ‘ooohs‘ and ‘aaahs‘ whenever you told people that you’ve been there. Now, thanks to Wow Air and other low-cost carriers offering more direct flights from all over the UK, Europe and parts of Canada and the US, it’s become easier and cheaper to get there!
Known as the ‘Land of Ice & Fire’, this magical island has built up itself as a symphonic playground of extreme natural elements and contradictions – hot and cold, light and dark, rolling green hills and volcanic moon-surface black sands, frozen glacial lakes and hot geysers shooting into the sky, serene ice caves and supercharged, spitting volcanoes. One could spend a lifetime exploring the endless natural wonders of Iceland. Here’s what not to miss…
Iceland’s coastal capital and the world’s most northern capital city. With world-class locavore restaurants, a celebration of cultural arts and an abundance of live music bars, this calm, colourful city also reveals itself to be brimming with creative, effortlessly-stylish personalities who are inspired by their surroundings. Check out the National and Saga Museums for a good dose of Iceland’s Viking history and climb to the top of the iconic Hallgrímskirkja Church for a birds eye view over the city.
THE BLUE LAGOON
Sink into the milky blue, healing waters of the Blue Lagoon, which is naturally heated by geothermal seawater from almost 2000m below the ground and passes through porous lava to maintain the water temperature at 38°C.
The lagoon’s most active ingredients are made up of various minerals, the most beneficial being algae and silica, which are both held in wooden tubs around the water’s edge for people to freely apply to their body and face.
One of the most majestic and surreal landscapes on Earth is the incredible glacier lagoon of Jökulsárlón, which sits on the edge of Vatnajökull National Park. Unlike anything you’ve ever seen before, translucent icebergs with fluorescent aqua bodies and snow-capped tops float mesmerisingly on the mirrored lagoon, reflecting every pink crystal in the sky.
If you follow the lagoon as it meets the ocean, you’ll see an equally awe-inspiring sight of glassy icebergs washed up along the volcanic black sand beach.
CRYSTAL ICE CAVES
A trip to Iceland would be incomplete without getting to know its ice landscapes. Hike across the top of a glacier and explore the ice caves underneath, which are built up by amalgamated snow and meltwater streams that carve labyrinths and tunnels at the edge of glaciers.
Once you’re inside an ice cave, you’ll be surrounded by smooth, scalloped surfaces and luminous walls that glow a crystallised, brilliant blue. These caves are only safe to enter in sub-zero temperatures in the winter time so make sure to go with an experienced guide.
THE NORTHERN LIGHTS
The ‘Aurora Borealis‘ lights up the sky most evenings from October to April and is best seen in complete darkness on a clear night. No pictures nor words can really do justice to this magnificent natural phenomenon, a result of electric particles from the Sun colliding with gaseous elements in the Earth’s atmosphere. One of my favourite memories is getting to chase the luminescent green and blue waves dancing and twirling in the night sky above me.
Explore and get lost in the great outdoors, where a casual afternoon stroll can easily turn into a trek as the wonderous landscape and palpable energy guides you along.
No matter which season you choose to visit Iceland, whether in the summer to catch the midnight sun or in the dark, snow-filled days of winter, everywhere you turn is an opportunity to see and explore. Now I know why the charm of Iceland has undeniably captured the hearts of so many travellers and locals alike – they’re all armed with a heart for wander and splendour and this magical island doesn’t disappoint.
Writer: Jemma Sadrugu
Photographers: Jemma Sadrugu & Luke Senico