Located at Latitude 67 north, Iceland and its recent rise in tourism is befitting: With majestically milky hot springs, blistering and bright volcanoes, landscapes that resemble landing on the moon, unusual scapes for scuba diving and lava fields inhibited by Santa and his elves, this Nordic island has quickly become a top destination for American travelers. In fact, at any given time, more American tourists inhabit Iceland than Icelandic residents. With a surge in travel deals from the US to Iceland, journeying to this ancient land has become a must-do for travel connoisseurs and peace seekers.
TRAVEL TIP: HOW TO GET AROUND
Icelandair ofers free Reykjavik stopovers on transatlantic fights, thus giving you the opportunity to see many diferent parts of the country and pop around with ease. In a land whose empty spaces give of a natural pacifcity that is rare and robust, taking advantage of these deals is key to enjoying all there is to ofer in this Nordic country.
HEAD TO THE NORTH
With a quick fight from Reykjavik to the town of Akureyri, Northern Iceland gives visitors a picturesque look into the nation’s most treasured natural wonders. More familiar is South Iceland’s Diamond Circle, but what many don’t know is that the North also boasts a tour that will take you to Lake Myvatn, the Godafoss waterfalls, the geothermal area called Namaskard, the Jokulsargljufur canyon and much more. Godafoss (Goðafoss), which translates to “the Waterfall of the Gods,” is a historical monument and stunning sight near ring-road 1. It is named as such from the ancient Viking story about Thorgeir Ljosvetningagodi (Þorgeir ljósvetningagoði), an ex-Pagan Chief who converted to Christianity in AD 1000 by throwing pagan idols of Nordic gods into this waterfall as a proclamation of the new faith. Namafall mountain (also known as ‘Namaskard’ or ‘Hverir’) is a geothermal area that looks as celestial as it is serene. With boiling and bubbling mud pools, this high-temperature area is often referred to as “Hell’s Kitchen” for the steam that rises from it and the strong sulfur odor caused by hydrogen sulfde. Take a walk on the Icelandic moon.
SNORKEL THE SILFRA
When you think of the most ideal places to snorkel in the world, your imagination might fll with images of tropical waters in Hawaii or Indonesia. What many may not know when planning a trip to Iceland is that it’s waters are some of the most clear in the world and ofer a rare opportunity to swim between continental plates. Scuba divers and snorkelers are attracted to this freshwater beauty for many reasons but most its geological signifcance: The Silfra is located between the American and Eurasian tectonic plates. Ofering exceptional visibility, there are three main dive sites: Silfra Hall, Silfra Cathedral, and the Silfra Lagoon. If you’re a newbie or frst time snorkeler, this is a great place because the area is shallow upon entry. The “Ice” in Iceland certainly applies to the water temperature, which ranges between 36–39°F but can be relieved with a dry suit. The lava rocks are constantly fltering the water so it is truly some of the clearest water in the world. It’s so clean that you can drink it while snorkeling. You will view underwater majesty for as far as the eye can see while staying more hydrated than you have ever been. TRAVEL TIP: WHAT TO WEAR “If you don’t like the weather, wait fve minutes.” Pack for all seasons and occasions when visiting Iceland, where the weather is often windy and unpredictable. Each day will bring multiple changes in temperature, so preparing for anything is the best way to stay warm and comfortable for your Nordic adventures. A beautiful day can rapidly turn into a windstorm so pack layers that will allow you to go from t-shirt weather to winter weather in the turn of a moment.
GETTING THERE ICELANDAIR OFFERS DAILY NONSTOP SERVICE FROM DULLES INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (IAD) TO REYKJAVIC INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (REK).