Iceland — the land of fire and ice — is a fascinating territory where geothermal activity has marked its birth and development. As its name implies, this island nation in the north Atlantic is quite cold, as it shares the same latitude as Alaska. Summer months are ideal for touring the capital city of Reykjavík and venturing into the dramatic countryside where you’ll find oversized waterfalls, black lava fields, spurting geysers and icy glacial waters.
Photo: Seljalandsfoss Waterfall in Iceland - Photo Credit: Robert Lukeman from Unsplash
Trace Icelandic heritage over a thousand years by spending a day touring its largest city. The city dates to 874 AD when it was first settled by the Norwegians who named it Reykjavik, meaning “smoky bay,” a reference to the smoke-like geothermal steam released from its numerous hot springs. Icelandic culture reflects its Scandinavian tradition, and the National Museum of Iceland displays artifacts from Norse and Gaelic settlers. If you decide to walk the compact waterfront area, you can have a look at the official Parliament House as well as The Maritime Museum, which showcases the nation’s seafaring spirit. Don’t miss iconic Hallgrímskirkja church, the largest church in Iceland, known for its columnar architecture reflective of the country’s distinctive basalt columns.
Photo: The Sun Voyager statue in Reykjavik, Iceland - Photo Credit: Yanshu Lee from Unsplash
Perhaps the most sought-after photo opportunity in Iceland is a soak in the cloudy silica-rich water of the Blue Lagoon. The lagoon was built near the Svartsengi geothermal power plant in the 1980s after residents discovered the skincare benefits of naturally heated seawater, which led to today’s modern spa and restoration center. Upgrade your experience with an in-water massage atop a float, which will leave you relaxed and rejuvenated. Named one of 25 “wonders of the world” by National Geographic, a visit to the Blue Lagoon should be the centerpiece of your Iceland itinerary.
Photo: Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa in Iceland - Photo Credit: Frank Denney from Unsplash
Home to geothermal wonders like Strokkur geyser and an active volcano named Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland’s Golden Circle takes you out of the city and into its breathtaking landscape. The usual first stop in the circle is about 30 miles from Reykjavik, Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where visitors can hike to scenic overlooks, along lava fields and near walls of basalt rocks. Press on to the geyser region where you can witness the eruption of Strokkur every eight to ten minutes and see other geothermal phenomena like boiling hot springs, bubbling mud pots and deep fissures filled with bright blue water. The highlight of your day on the Golden Circle might be Gullfoss waterfall, where the Hvita River drops 96 feet in two massive falls, creating a spectacular sight.
Photo: Gullfoss Waterfall in Iceland - Photo Credit: Teanna Morgan from Unsplash
Set Sail from Iceland
Many North Atlantic itineraries on Norwegian Cruise Line start or finish in Reykjavik, making it easy to add a few days of personal exploration pre- or post-cruise. Each of these destinations can be reached on a daylong excursion from your home base on board their well-appointed and spacious ships. Norwegian's Freestyle Cruising means there’s no schedule to follow but your own. Reach out to our agency to customize your cruise vacation with all the sights you want to see in Iceland.
Don't delay and book your Icelandic vacation today!
Reprinted with permission from Travel Leaders Network | Amy Mutscher | June 22, 2022