ICELAND: GOLDEN CIRCLE AND SOUTH COAST

The land of fire and ice has gone from a quiet country to a full blown tourist destination. One of the great things about Iceland is how much you can visit over a few days. Iceland is a great destination to stop over between a U.S. and Europe trip. It’s only a 5.5 hour flight from NYC.

Plan early! Plan Early! Plan Early! The Icelandic tourist industry is working hard to meet the increasing demands. Hotels, tours and guides book up quickly.

No matter the season, you need to be prepared for wind, rain, sun and snow! The average temperature during the winter is around 32°F in South Iceland but it can reach -22°F in the North. During the summer, temperatures range between 50-55°F in the southern part of Iceland. Layers, a good rain coat and waterproof shoes are an absolute must!

Iceland is definitely an active trip. If you are adventurous with a love of outdoors, I think this is the place for you! Check out these highlights:

Traveling Inside a Volcano

Location: Golden Circle

I was fortunate to be traveling with my adventuresome family. We hiked an easy 2 mile trail (in the pouring rain) to explore the inside of Thrihnukagiur. I’m not going to lie, I was a bit dubious of how they were going to lower us into the volcano. Everyone rock climbs in my family but me. I thought I’ll get some exercise with the hike and skip the volcano part. Turns out some explorers from National Geographic and German engineers had done their due diligence and created a cage like lift which looks like a device window washers would use.

Since this seemed relatively safe, I decided to give it a go. I do have slight claustrophobia so I was a bit nervous as they lowered us 400 feet down. The colors inside were spectacular and it was so vast once we hit the bottom that my fears disappeared.

It was incredible to be in the heart of the volcano. Thrihnukagir is the only dormant volcano that hasn’t collapsed after eruption. It’s a mystery why the magma retreated deep into the volcano. I’m always trying to find unique experiences in my travels and this was definitely one of my favorites.

Silfra Diving and Snorkeling


Location: Golden Circle

Silfra is a fissure filled with fresh spring water within Þingvellir National Park, a UNESCO world Heritage Site.

The Silfra fissure is actually a crack between the North American and Eurasian continents, meaning that you scuba dive/snorkel right where the continental plates meet and drift apart each year.

The water is filtered through porous underground lava and travels for 30- 100 years before it reaches Þingvellir Lake. Due to the underground water travel, the temperature remains a constant 35 degree Fahrenheit all year long.

My family opted to snorkel instead of dive on our trip. After being fitted with dry suits, neoprene gloves and hoodies we headed over to the fissure. After the initial cold shock to the face and hands, we explored the colorful caves and crevices.

This is a popular activity and you will need to plan ahead.

Glacier Hiking

Location: South Coast

Being a Florida Native, the idea of walking on a glacier was an experience I didn’t want to miss. Glaciers are one of the most mysterious natural wonders in the world. With 11% of the total land area covered by ice caps, Iceland is a glacier paradise.

We strapped on our helmets and crampons grabbed our ice axe and headed up Sólheimajökullis. This is a beautiful outlet glacier of the Myrdalsjokull icecap. It was a little unnerving at first as I crossed crevices and tested the strength of the surface. After about 15 minutes, I felt like a true mountaineer.

Sólheimajökullis is one of the few glaciers that is not surrounded by mountains and the turquoise blue ice reflected the beautiful view of the black sand beach of Sólheimasandur and Atlantic Ocean. There were many walls of ice so we used our axes to help us climb. We were lucky enough to find an ice cave and explore it with our guide.

Unfortunately, we learned that Sólheimasandur is shrinking due to climate change. The White House has used images to show the effect of climate change. My advice: enjoy this beauty while you can!

Blue Lagoon

Location: Reykjanes UNESCO Geopark

(20 minutes from Keflavík Airport; 50 minutes from Reykjavík)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image.png

The Blue Lagoon in not a natural hot spring but a man made structure created in 1976 as a result of a waste water plant that was drilling for steam and hot water. I think I may be the only person who didn’t enjoy it. The idea of the natural minerals is a fantastic concept but I was quickly reminded that I don’t like waterparks. There were so many folks in the lagoon and a walk up bar … there is no doubt someone was peeing in it! However, I did learn that the water is continually streaming into the lagoon and all the water is renewed in 48 hours, making sure it stays clean. Due to the popularity and great marketing of the Blue Lagoon, you will now find a hotel, spa and fine dining on property.

Many natural hot springs are located all over Iceland. Reykjadlur, the Valley of Steam, is a geothermal region located 30 miles from Rejkavick. It is a popular place for hiking and hot spring enjoyment. I plan to skip the Blue Lagoon and check this out on my next visit.

Waterfalls

There seems to be an unclear count of waterfalls in Iceland. I’ve read 10,000 in some reference books and 200 in others. Needless to say, there are plenty to visit. If you are on a quick trip to Iceland, these three should be top on your list.

Gullfoss

Location: Golden Circle


Description: One of the most iconic and beloved waterfalls in Iceland
Tip: Stay on the right side of the “fence” (a rope) because it drops 105 feet!

Skógafoss
Location: South Coast


Description: the impressive 197 foot shower curtain
Tip: Climb to the top, a fantastic food truck serving fish and chips sets up in the summer.

Seljalandsfoss


Location: South Coast


Description: The one where you can walk behind
Tip: Walk behind the waterfall for an unbelievable perspective

Let me know if you have any questions on Iceland!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Luxury Travel Planning

Schedule a Call

Categories

Photo of Jennifer.

Hi, I'm Jennifer.

Travel is my passion: I've been jet-setting since I could walk, and go everywhere I can fit into my schedule.

I create the most personalized and exciting jaunts my clients have ever experienced.

Learn More