This volcanic island in the North Atlantic boasts one of the most extreme landscapes on the planet. Geysers, lava fields, bubbling mud pools, icebergs and geothermal spas make this, quite literally, one of the hottest – and coolest – places on Earth. Combine this landscape with Reykjavik’s cutting-edge architecture and thriving contemporary art and music scenes and you clearly understand why Iceland is such a popular travel destination.
Step Off the Plane and Into the Blue Lagoon
What better way to cure jet lag than by relaxing in a spa upon arrival. Just 20 minutes from Keflavík International Airport sits the country’s most famous geothermal pool, the Blue Lagoon. Enjoy a floating massage while drifting along the mist-enshrouded lagoon or a mineral-rich silica-mud mask applied straight from its floor. Or you can swim to the bar to order a drink along with a lava-rock scrub mask and exfoliate with a glass of wine without ever leaving the water. Just a ten-minute walk away, the Silica Hotel has modern rooms with private verandas with views of the lava fields.
Road Trip! Explore the Ring Road Sights & Reykjavik
Once you’re thoroughly relaxed, you’ll be ready for a drive along the Ring Road to explore more of the country’s spectacular natural wonders, including spurting geysers, rushing waterfalls and active volcanoes. As you circle the island, you’ll want to stop and peer over the vertiginous cliffs to watch dolphins frolic in the icy Atlantic waters. Make sure you visit the Skagafjordur Folk Museum, full of old farmhouses with turf roofs. Apparently, turf was more readily available than wood during the 18th and 19th centuries.
You can follow the Ring Road right back into Reykjavik, where over half of the country’s population lives. Get a great view of this colorful city from the top of Hallgrímskirkja church. Another must-see attraction is the Harpa Concert Hall, home to the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra and the Icelandic Opera. Designed by renowned artist Olafur Eliasson, the enticingly modern structure was built with a glass facade designed to mirror the city.
Beginning with the meteoric rise of innovative singer-songwriter Björk, Iceland has become a hot spot for contemporary music. But in recent years, Reykjavik has also cemented its reputation as a hub for contemporary art. To get your fix, visit popular galleries like Kling & Bang, i8 and Tysgalleri.
Have a layover in Iceland on your way to or from Europe? Consider staying a couple of days. It’s the perfect place to recharge your batteries before heading to your final destination. Given how much there is to see and do, you might just fall in love with all the natural wonders and modern marvels this North Atlantic island has to offer.