Experience the best of the Land of Fire and Ice
Guess which European country is the first to open its borders to all international vaccinated travelers? Iceland! Everyone who has proof of a prior infection or a vaccine can bypass their testing and quarantine protocols and enter the country. In response, many airlines are increasing their flights to this beautiful destination.
Iceland is definitely on my travel list! When I visit Iceland, I want to experience so many things! These three excursions will be part of my Iceland getaway; in my opinion, they’re the three best hidden excursions in Iceland.
#1: Do a 2-day Ice Cave Discovery Tour
On this tour, you visit Iceland’s largest glaciers, highest mountains, and the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon where massive icebergs float around and wash up on the black sand shores of Diamond Beach. This location is reputed to be the most beautiful in Iceland. On the first day, you travel east and explore the waterfalls, black sand beaches, and canyons of South Coast.
That evening you can search for the Northern Lights in the night sky.
The second day involves exploring the Vatnajokull National Park with glaciers, hiking through inside ice caves, and visiting glacier lagoons filled with icebergs. This trip is available October through the end of April; during the other half of the year, you’ll experience a glacier hike rather than an ice cave.
#2: Take a 1-day tour of the Golden Circle
This tour is so amazing, you won’t believe you can do all of this in just one day! Full of the best hand-picked sites, you’ll experience powerful waterfalls, geothermal hot pools, erupting geysers, separating continental plates, and delicious food!
In the morning, you leave Reykjavik and head straight to the Secret Lagoon, where you warm up and soak in the natural hot springs of the Secret Lagoon, Iceland’s oldest natural swimming pool. After that, drive to a tomato greenhouse farm near the village of Reykholt, and enjoy a delicious lunch in the greenhouse, followed by a view of the stunning horses bred on this farm.
After lunch, head to one of Iceland’s most powerful waterfalls, Gulfoss, a 100-foot, two-tiered waterfall which pours into a deep fissure created by tectonic plate movement. From there, drive to the geothermal of Geysir, the original exploding geyser area. The most active geyser erupts every 6-10 minutes, so you’re sure to get a great show.
The day wouldn’t be complete without driving to the Pingvellir National Park, where the valley lies between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. Explore on foot and take in the great views before heading back to Reykjavik.
#3: Visit the Snaefellsnes Peninsula for a day
This peninsula has some of Iceland’s most renowned sights: lava fields, black sand beaches, iconic mountains, fishing villages, and dramatic coastal cliffs. Depart from Reykjavik this morning, driving through the 6-kilometer undersea tunnel underneath the Whale Fjord. The first stop is at a lookout over Selvallavatn, surrounded by mountains, lakes, and lava fields. You’ll be able to spot a hidden waterfall as well. Then continue driving to the beautiful town of Stykkisholmur, with colorful old buildings overlooking the countless islands in the bay. Walk around the harbor and island, and have lunch at a favorite restaurant.
After lunch, make the scenic drive to see the arrow-shaped Church Mountain, which rises nearly 500 meters near the seaside. (This mountain has been seen in the TV show Game of Thrones.) Drive further around the coast to the western edge of the peninsula, and see the powerful glacier-topped Snaefellsjokull Volcano. Then drive through mossy lava fields and reach the black sand shores of the beach. Along the rocky black beach, see green freshwater pools and old shipwreck remains.
Then visit the gorgeous fishing village of Arnarstapi, exploring the rock formations, coves and sea cliffs. The Black Church, located in rural Iceland, is one of the most photogenic, with a backdrop of lava fields and mountains. Afterwards, head back to Reykjavik.
Iceland is full of warm, happy people and amazing experiences. It makes complete sense that they would be the first European country to welcome the rest of the world back with open arms.