Iceland has become more and more popular over the years and there be won't be a day without you seeing photos from Iceland on Instagram or Facebook. Have you ever thought of packing together your things and hitting the road to visit this amazing country? No? Well, here is 5 reasons why you definitely should consider doing so.
But first some history about this fantastic place. Iceland is actually, compared to the rest of the world a young island. It started to form in the geological era of Miocene (about 20mio years ago) due to a series of volcanic eruptions on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. That's where the European and American tectonic plates conjoin. The formation of Iceland is also attributed by a hotspot, the so called Icelandic hotspot, which is an abnormally hot portion of the earths mantle. Icelands landscape was then formed and brought into shape by the different ice ages. While the island was covered in ice, fjords, glaciers and valleys were created.
1. THE INCREDIBLE LANDSCAPE AND NATURE
Of course, one of the main reasons to visit Iceland is the amazing nature the country has to offer. To me, since I am not too much a lover of the heat, this island got it all. Weather you want to see mesmerising waterfalls, enjoy incredible fjords, spent a cozy afternoon in one of many natural hot pools, go on a glacier hike, visit an active volcano, see one of the most incredible birds: Puffins, go on a whale watching tour, pet the Icelandic horse or just want to relax at the beach, this might just be the perfect country for you to visit. In Icelandic you can find some of the nicest hikes I have ever seen. Especially taking a little detour into the Icelandic highlights is a must. But be aware, to go into the highlands you need a 4x4, as rental car companies do not allow you to drive the roads in normal cars. Top tip for a hike: Landmannalaugar
2. THE PEOPLE
I have been to Iceland a few times now and must say, what really made the trips a unique experience were the people I have met. In a lot of countries the people are annoyed by tourists`, but from what I have noticed, it is all different here. Ever since Iceland existed, their strongest source of income was fishing, but in the recent years it all started to change and nowadays the tourism sector has taken over. All the people visiting from all over the world have brought them new opportunities and so it comes that a lot of people work in the tourism sector. When in Iceland make sure to connect with local people! They have incredible stories to tell! For example I met a guy who offered us to stay at his home for free during an incredibly cold night. One time I was shown around the whole region by a guy who was living in the area and discovered many unknown secrets, that no one would have ever guessed. My top tip to connect to people is to go into a local swimming pool. They can be found in almost every village, even if there is only a couple of houses there. Here you will definitely meet locals to talk while enjoying the warmth of a hot pool.
3. MIDNIGHT SUN AND NORTHERN LIGHTS
Depending on when you visit Iceland, you can experience two very different, but also very magical things. Firstly the Midnight Sun, something I personally have not witnessed yet, but from what I have heard it must be absolutely mesmerising. Between May and August you can witness almost 24 hours of daylight every day, with the sun setting just before midnight and coming back up over the horizon just after midnight. During the longest day, the 21st of June and a few days after and before, you can experience the actual midnight sun, with the sun shining at midnight. Crazy right? If you love shooting sunsets and sunrises, this is the time for you to head over there, I mean it will be more than 12 hours of golden light.
Secondly you can experience the northern lights (aurora borealis). Between September and April the northern lights can be witnessed in Iceland. A few things to consider: The night has to be as dark as possible, so a full moon will dim the colors and brightness of the lights and of course, when it is too cloudy you will have a hard time seeing them, too. As well, since Aurora forecasts are on the level that weather forecasts were 100 years ago, it is very difficult to predict when they are going to happen. But when you are in Iceland around that time, I recommend setting an alarm every hour, and quickly check if anything is happening. You definitely don't want to miss a true northern lights display, as it is truely magical!
4. THE FOOD
The food is definitely something I look forward to. Since Iceland is a fishing nation, they have an amazing variety of fish. There is all sorts of different fish from dried to cooked to battered. Also, when visiting Iceland, you will quickly notice how many sheep there are. A famous dish is Hangikjöt, which is smoked lamb. Lamb generally is reputed to be of top quality, which due to how the sheep are farmed. The sheep are free to run around the vast and open Icelandic landscape in summer, without any supervision. One of my favourite dishes is Kjötsupa, which another traditional lamb dish. It is a soup cooked and boiled for several hours with carrots, onions, potatoes and herbs. Then there is the famous Skyr, a yogurt, which isn't actually a yogurt and more like a soft cheese. It is then mixed with milk, sugar and fruits such as Icelandic blueberries or international strawberries. It has a rich yogurt-like flavor and it has been my everyday breakfast for all my recent trips to Iceland. I loved it so much, that I have even started purchasing it in Germany. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to taste the same. Iceland is definitely not a cheap country, but if you are on a budget, I have also got something for you: The famous Icelandic hotdog Pylsa, cheerful and cheap and also available almost everywhere you go!
5. THE ICELANDIC EXPERIENCE
Last but not least, the experience you take with you. In recent years a lot of hotels have been built in Iceland and I recommend, if you want a true Icelandic experience, you shouldn't go anywhere near these. Iceland is the 3rd windiest country in the world. The weather can be unbelievably rough. It can change within minutes from warm temperatures into the craziest snowstorm you have ever seen. While visiting iceland, I have always stayed in a tent , however it went down to -19 degrees Celsius (-2.2 degrees Fahrenheit) one time and another time my tent flew away in hurricane force winds, but this is what this country is all about. Located in the middle of the Atlantic, close to the arctic circle, conditions can be tough and can make your life hard. I just came back from Iceland, and due to heavy and prolonged rain, a major road got closed (Ring Road), because a bridge broke. I had to take a detour of 1400km (869 miles) to get to a place that would have normally taken just 30min, if the bridge was still standing. Of course, you can have a luxury holiday in Iceland as well, but for me Iceland is not a typical holiday, it is a true adventure!
You have any question or you've got something to add? Just leave me a comment down below!