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10 reasons to fall in love with Iceland

By , January 26, 2016

There’s a reason why Iceland was chosen as a set location for Game of Thrones, with its winter-is-coming landscape. Its wilderness was perfect for Jon Snow’s adventures north of the wall, and for Arya and Sandor Clegane’s journey across Westeros, with was filmed in the rugged beauty of Thingvellir National Park.

The island is a nature’s playground that’s just a stone’s throw away from mainland Europe and contains more than 130 active and inactive volcanoes and plenty of opportunities to leave your comfort zone with wild adventures that range from ice climbing to whale watching. If a relaxing getaway is more your idea of a good holiday, then Iceland is also well known for its geothermal pools and cleansing silica mud.

One thing’s for sure: these things will have you falling in love with Iceland in no time.

 

Ion Luxury Adventure Hotel

Check into the magnificent Ion Luxury Adventure Hotel to set yourself in the midst of the ‘land of fire and ice’. The magnificent structure stands brooding against dark and magical mountainous lava fields and is also perfectly located for soul-searching under the Northern Lights, trekking across an ancient glacier or exploring icy rivers.

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Landmannalaugar Mountains

The mountains are known for their kaleidoscopic rock formations and the young and boisterous volcanoes add a spooky edge to any visit to Landmannalaugar. As part of the Fjallabak Nature Reserve, the Landmannalaugar Mountains are best seen from June to September. The colourful rock, lime-green moss and natural lakes such as Ljotipollur make these photogenic mountains a sight for sore eyes.

The Golden Circle

The Golden Circle is one of the most well-known road trips in the world. It’s a 300-kilometre loop that starts in Reykjavik and heads east towards some of Iceland’s major tourist sites, including the astounding Waterfall Gullfoss; the Strokkur geyser which erupts every 10 minutes sending gushes of water into the air; and Kerið, a volcanic crater.

Silfra Diving

Many do not know that Iceland is home to a world-class diving area called Silfra. The diving spot straddles the fissure between the Eurasian and American tectonic plates – allowing a unique glimpse into the crevasse between the two continents. What’s more, the crystal clear water allows for great visibility meaning you can explore the rift in close detail. In some places the two continental plates are so close together you can have one hand on the Eurasian Plate and the other on the American.

The Blue Lagoon

One of the 25 Wonders of the World, The Blue Lagoon is familiar to most people. Formed in 1976, The Blue Lagoon rose to fame when locals noticed improvements after applying the silica-soaked mud to their skin and bathing in the azure waters. The site has grown a lot since then, as has the range of skin-purifying products developed using the water and silica mud. The water emerging into the lagoon is a comfortable 38 degrees.

Northern Lights

The Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis are nature’s magical light show and Iceland is perfectly positioned to take in the full spectacle. The best conditions for catching a glimpse of the Lights are clear skies and cooler nights – the chillier the temperature the brighter the show. Both of these qualities are found in Iceland from September to mid-April, making it the ideal spot to watch the Northern Lights.

Volcanoes

Known as the Land of Ice and Fire, Iceland’s volcanoes take centre stage when it comes to trekking and climbing opportunities. The slow-cooling ash fields from years of eruptions have created unusual rock formations, caves and crevasses that could easily be CGI straight from Middle Earth. Some of the volcanoes are located below geothermal lakes causing huge explosions when they erupt and incidentally the majority of the volcanoes in Iceland have female names – Mother Nature’s homage to girl power!

Glacier and ice cave trekking

Traversing Iceland’s wandering glaciers, whether climbed or hiked, is a must-do when in Iceland as they are just waiting to be explored. Crystal white and cerulean colours glitter in the sunlight adding to the magical aura of the experience. With the help of ice axes and crampons, the glaciers can be relatively easily navigated along with a guide – it’s the perfect way to let loose your inner explorer.

If you want to go all out with the Game of Thrones experience, take a trip to Vatnajökull, which is Europe’s largest glacier and happens to be the setting for Jon Snow’s adventures beyond the wall… you might even spot some White Walkers in real life! 

Icelandic Horses

Icelandic horses have very specific characteristics unique to the island. A big social event for Icelanders is herding the horses down the mountains in autumn after their summer grazing. Horses are a large part of the way of life in Iceland and while there are only 300,000 people, there are more than 80,000 horses. In Iceland, it is forbidden to trade horses with other countries to preserve the horse’s pure-bred traits and once a horse leaves the island it can never go back.

Reykjavik

Reykjavik is a thriving European city with a lively bar and nightlife scene plus some great seafood restaurants. Reykjavik-Keflavík is along many transatlantic flight paths with some flights stopping there to refuel, so it’s the perfect stop-over to bridge the gap between any European-America travel plans. To get panoramic views over the city, climb to the top of Hallgrímskirkja, an iconic religious monument with a tower 73 metres high.

Dyrhólaey

Dyrhólaey is a small coastal peninsula in the south of Iceland. It’s a great spot for wildlife spotting, with whales and rare puffin colonies being among the highlights.  Just out to sea is a large black arch of lava and it’s from this that Dyrhólaey takes its name. One of the most iconic sites of Iceland, Dyrhólaey is around 20 minutes from the main road and when the sea is calm, the arch is wide enough for large boats to sail through it.

Convinced you’d like to visit Iceland? Plan your ideal Iceland getaway here.

Tell us about your favourite spots in Iceland in the comments below!