Travelling to Iceland is a journey through the world of nature. Mother earth captured in one small island. It’s all there. The green valleys of New Zealand. Snowy peaks of the Alps. Mount Fuji and the Tian Shan. The volcanoes of Indonesia. Geysers reminiscent of Yellowstone and a peculiar light found in South Africa. It’s a miniature of the world.
You will need a car to explore the island. Although a rather small country, it will take you about a week to drive it all around. Luckily, Reykjavik is a perfect spot for day trips. And even if everyone is following the same routes it doesn’t feel touristy. The ten-thousand-square meter-American-parking-lots with plastic merchandises haven’t made it here yet. Thank God.
So where should you go? Head towards Vik and explore the north east coastline. You will pass two of Iceland’s most scenic waterfalls along the road. Seljalandfoss falls from a cave like mountain and produce an ever lasting rainbow. That is, if it’s not raining of course. Walk the slippery path into the cave and see it from the inside. The view is mesmerizing. The other one is Skogafoss. Walk the stairway to the top and see it from above to upload a memorable panorama into your brain. It’s worth it.
Did you ever watch the TV series Lost? It’s the never ending story about a group people lost on a remote and mysterious island. Iceland took me right back to the island.
The island will present itself with a kind of fantasy landscape you dream about as a child. Fascinating colors. Mysterious hot springs. A polar bear on the road. Just keep your eyes open. End your day trip to Vik on the black beach at Reynisfjara. The place is as strange as it sounds and a peculiar light is created when the sun hits the rock formations.
Another route from Rejkjavik is the Golden Circle. The 300 km long journey takes you to some of the most scenic places on the island. But it’s just as much about the in-betweens. The things you see on the road. It’s non-earthy in a way. Almost like a different planet. And the white and red houses scattered on green hills with blue Monet like skies will make you wonder why you don’t live here. Why don’t you?
How do you describe Iceland to someone who hasn’t been there? You can’t. So I will let the photos do most of the talking.
Make a stop at the hot springs at Hveragerdi and boil your picnic eggs in the volcano heated water. It’s as natural as it gets. Just bring some warm clothes. Iceland has a top temperature of thirteen degrees celsius. And it rains a lot. But don’t worry, the weather shifts as fast as you remember you forgot the umbrella in the hotel lobby.
The golden circle is a long route for just one day. Skip the Gullfoss waterfall and head to the geysers in the Haukadalur valley. These water shooting openings only exist in a few places on earth and is a unique experience. All you need is just a little patience to quote a famous singer.
Cold and frozen after a too long and wet day? Head to Fridheimar restaurant and have hot tomato soap inside a large greenhouse. End the day with a swim in the 40 degrees natural hot Blue Lagoon. The colder the air, the better the experience.
Reykjavik is a small city with an everyone-knows-everyone feeling. Don’t miss the futuristic Hallgrimur Church, it’s like taken from a scene in Game of Thrones. But the city really comes alive at night. You will soon notice that Icelanders are more than happy to party until late morning. And yes, they do have an app to identify potential relatives before they go for that 4.45-in-the-morning-flirt.
Don’t be surprise if the bartender speaks fluent English with a touch of Brooklyn accent. Almost one third of the tourists visiting Iceland are east coast Americans.
They also like to eat. Check out the Grill Market or Grillmarkadurinn as the locals say for top gourmet dishes in a New York style atmosphere. Or head to Fiskmarkadurinn for a twelve piece tasting menu covering the best the island has to offer. It’s a culinary experience for sure. Eat your way through whale meat, lava puff pastries, and volcano desserts. Finish the night with a drink at Loftid. It’s the coolest bar in town.
All images © 2018 Erik Ekberger.