Hvassaleiti 16, 103 Reykjavík, Iceland
Welcome to Reykjavik, the enchanting capital of Iceland and a city that effortlessly combines natural wonders with vibrant urban charm. Nestled on the edge of the North Atlantic Ocean, Reykjavik is a captivating destination that will capture your heart from the moment you arrive.
Let’s start off with a little bit of history:
Once upon a time, in a land of ice and fire, Reykjavik began its extraordinary journey. Legend has it that Viking explorers sailed across treacherous seas and stumbled upon a smoky bay surrounded by majestic mountains. Intrigued by the steam rising from hot springs, they decided to settle in this mystical place.
As the years went by, Reykjavik transformed from a humble farming settlement to a bustling trading post. It became a hub of activity, attracting merchants, fishermen, and adventurers from all corners of the world. The city's fortunes rose with the tides of the fishing industry, and its colorful houses began to dot the landscape like a vibrant artist's palette.
In the 20th century, Reykjavik became the stage for a historic event. Iceland, like a phoenix, rose from the ashes of colonial rule and declared its independence. Reykjavik proudly assumed its role as the capital, embracing the spirit of freedom and progress.
Today, Reykjavik stands tall as a vibrant metropolis, blending ancient Viking heritage with modern innovation.
This cosmopolitan city may be small in size, but it packs a punch with its unique character and irresistible allure. Reykjavik is a place where colorful houses dot the streets, creating a picturesque setting against a backdrop of rugged landscapes. The city effortlessly blends its rich Viking heritage with contemporary design, resulting in a delightful fusion of tradition and modernity.
Reykjavik is a hub of creativity and culture, with a thriving arts and music scene. From lively galleries and museums to vibrant street art, the city is a canvas for artistic expression. You'll find an abundance of live music venues, showcasing local talent and international acts that fill the air with soulful melodies.
That’s all pretty great, right? On THIS tour however, we will be going on an adventure outside of the city and into serenity.
That’s right. This is the UCPlaces Golden Circle tour, not the City of Reykjavik tour. In case you didn’t pay attention during the intro, here’s what we will find on this awesome tour:
Parks, lakes, waterfalls, hot springs, geothermal power plants, greenhouses, craters, lagoons, churches, gulches, museums, observation decks, tomato farms, scenic overlooks, and probably even more amazing sites that I just can’t think of right now.
So please follow your navigation as we head off on the adventure of a lifetime.
As we leave the city and go toward our first town, let me tell you a few unknown fun-facts about Iceland:
Renewable Energy: Iceland is a global leader in renewable energy. Around 85% of the country's primary energy comes from renewable sources, primarily geothermal and hydroelectric power.
Elves and Hidden People: Icelandic folklore is rich with stories of elves and hidden people (Huldufólk). Many Icelanders believe in their existence, and construction projects have been altered to avoid disturbing their supposed dwellings.
No Mosquitoes: Iceland is one of the few places on Earth where you won't find any mosquitoes. The country's cold climate and windy conditions make it an inhospitable environment for these pesky insects.
The Icelandic Language: Icelandic has changed very little over the centuries and remains remarkably similar to Old Norse. This means that Icelanders can still read ancient Icelandic sagas written in the 13th century without much difficulty.
Renewable Fisheries: Iceland is known for its sustainable fishing practices. The country carefully manages its fish stocks, and fishing quotas are based on scientific research to ensure long-term sustainability.
No Army: Iceland is one of the few countries in the world with no standing army. Instead, it maintains a small coast guard responsible for defense and search-and-rescue operations.
Volcanic Activity: Iceland is home to over 130 volcanoes, some of which are active. The island's volcanic landscapes, such as the famous Eyjafjallajökull and Katla volcanoes, have shaped its unique geology.
Book-Loving Nation: Iceland has a strong literary tradition, and its people have a deep love for books. The country publishes more books per capita than any other nation, and an annual "Book Flood" tradition occurs before Christmas when most books are sold.
Language Preservation: Icelandic is one of the oldest living languages in the world and has remained relatively unchanged for centuries. Icelanders take great pride in preserving their language and heritage.
No McDonald's: Iceland is one of the few countries where McDonald's failed to establish a lasting presence. The last McDonald's restaurant closed in 2009, largely due to high import costs and changing consumer preferences.
The Midnight Sun and Polar Nights: In summer, Iceland experiences the phenomenon of the midnight sun, where the sun never fully sets, providing continuous daylight for several weeks. Conversely, during winter, some parts of Iceland experience polar nights, with extended periods of darkness.
No Railway System: Despite its modern infrastructure, Iceland does not have a railway system. Travel between cities and towns is primarily facilitated through buses, cars, and domestic flights.
Were you aware of any of those fun-facts? How many? Well let’s learn a whole lot more as we continue on our way. Just follow your navigation.
Lágafell, 270 Mosfellsbær, Iceland
Up ahead is Mosfellsbær. This charming town is like stepping into a fairytale book, with colorful houses dotting the landscape and friendly locals ready to greet you with a smile. From quirky street art to quirky cafes, Mosfellsbær exudes a playful spirit that's infectious. Want to channel your inner Viking? Grab a helmet and join a thrilling ax-throwing competition. Looking for a unique way to explore the area? Hop on a Segway and zoom through the picturesque streets, feeling like a modern-day explorer. And don't forget to indulge your sweet tooth at the town's famous chocolate factory, where you can watch the mouthwatering treats being crafted with love. Mosfellsbær is a place where laughter echoes in the air, adventure lurks around every corner, and joy is the key ingredient.
You’ve probably noticed by now that Iceland loves its roundabouts. One of these roundabouts will have a sign leading you to Thingvellir. Keep your eyes peeled!
Laxnes, 271, Iceland
Remember how I said we’d be visiting a museum? Well, just ahead on the right is the Laxness Museum. Feel free to drop in for a journey through the life and works of Halldór Laxness. Explore his former residence, where every corner is filled with literary treasures and quirky artifacts. Immerse yourself in the enchanting atmosphere and discover the magic that inspired this Icelandic literary legend.
Halldór Laxness, the iconic Icelandic author, achieved a myriad of accomplishments throughout his illustrious career. His most notable achievement was being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1955, recognizing his profound contribution to world literature. Laxness penned numerous novels, including the acclaimed "Independent People," which captured the essence of Icelandic culture and garnered international acclaim. His works were marked by their rich storytelling, exploration of social issues, and deep philosophical insights.
Ok, but who was he really? When Halldór Laxness wasn't busy penning captivating novels, he had a knack for indulging in some fascinating hobbies. One of his favorite pastimes was exploring the Icelandic countryside on horseback, galloping through meadows and feeling the wind in his hair. He was also an avid angler, spending hours casting his line into glistening rivers, hoping to reel in the catch of the day. When he needed a break from the written word, Laxness found solace in the art of pottery, sculpting clay into whimsical shapes and creating unique pieces that reflected his playful spirit. And let's not forget his love for gardening! Laxness could often be found tending to his vibrant flower beds, nurturing nature's beauty with his own hands. From horseback riding to pottery, fishing to gardening, Laxness knew how to embrace the joys of life beyond the written page, finding inspiration and delight in the hobbies that brought him closer to the wonders of the world.
Ok, what’s next? How about a lake? Keep driving.
Be patient. Soon you will be able to see Lake Thingvallavatn on your right. This magnificent lake offers a plethora of fun activities that cater to all tastes and ages. For water enthusiasts, there's no shortage of aquatic adventures. You can try your hand at fishing, casting your line into the lake's pristine waters in search of trout or Arctic char. If you're feeling adventurous, why not dive into the lake for some snorkeling or scuba diving? Discover the underwater wonders and marvel at the unique geological formations beneath the surface.
For those seeking a more leisurely experience, hop aboard a boat tour and cruise along the lake's shores, taking in the breathtaking landscapes and the surrounding mountains. You can relax, sip on a hot cup of cocoa, and keep an eye out for the diverse birdlife that calls the lake home.
Lake Thingvallavatn is also a paradise for hikers and nature lovers. Lace up your hiking boots and explore the surrounding trails, ranging from easy strolls to more challenging treks. Revel in the beauty of the untouched wilderness and soak up the tranquility of the area.
Photography enthusiasts will find endless inspiration at Lake Thingvallavatn. With its stunning vistas, ever-changing light, and dramatic landscapes, it's a dream come true for capturing breathtaking shots. The reflections on the calm waters and the contrasting colors of the surroundings make for fantastic photo opportunities.
Additionally, the lake's proximity to Thingvellir National Park , which is where we are heading next, opens up even more opportunities for fun. Whether you choose to fish, boat, hike, dive, or simply unwind in the serene surroundings, Lake Thingvallavatn offers a wealth of fun experiences that will leave you with unforgettable memories of Iceland's natural beauty.
The Thingvellir Visitor Center is a must-stop along this tour. This is where you can get out, stretch your legs, and explore a plethora of Icelandic sites, like the Silfra Fissure, the Thingvellir Church, multiple waterfalls, and magnificent views.
While the primary focus of the Thingvellir Visitor Center is to provide information and education about the park, there are still plenty of fun things to do on-site. One of the highlights is exploring the interactive exhibits that showcase the geological and historical significance of Thingvellir National Park. Engage in hands-on activities, watch informative videos, and discover the unique tectonic features of the area.
Additionally, the Visitor Center offers guided tours led by knowledgeable staff members. Joining one of these tours allows you to explore the park's stunning landscapes, learn about its flora and fauna, and gain a deeper understanding of its cultural heritage. The guides provide interesting insights and stories, making the experience both educational and entertaining.
After your exploration experience, take some time to relax and recharge at the Visitor Center's café. Enjoy a cup of coffee, indulge in a delicious snack, or simply take in the breathtaking views of the park.
When you are ready, just follow your navigation as we continue our journey.
Þingvallavegur, 806, Iceland
Let’s talk about an amazing animal specific only to Iceland - the Icelandic Horse.
The Icelandic horse is a true marvel and an integral part of Icelandic culture. This unique breed, often referred to as the "Viking horse," has captivated the hearts of locals and visitors alike with its beauty, strength, and distinct characteristics.
What sets the Icelandic horse apart is its versatility and its ability to perform a range of gaits. While most horses have three gaits (walk, trot, and canter/gallop), the Icelandic horse has an additional two unique gaits: the tölt and the flying pace. The tölt is a smooth, four-beat gait that allows riders to effortlessly glide across various terrains, making it incredibly comfortable for long-distance journeys. The flying pace, on the other hand, is a fast and exhilarating gait where all four hooves leave the ground, creating a thrilling and adrenaline-pumping experience.
Not only are Icelandic horses known for their extraordinary gaits, but they are also beloved for their friendly and gentle nature. They possess a calm and willing temperament, making them suitable for riders of all ages and experience levels. Their intelligence and adaptability are remarkable, as they can navigate challenging terrains, endure harsh weather conditions, and form strong bonds with their human companions.
The Icelandic horse plays an essential role in Icelandic traditions and events. Each year, Iceland hosts numerous horse shows and competitions, showcasing the breed's agility, grace, and beauty. Festivals such as the "Riding of the Fjords" celebrate the horses' historical significance and the deep connection between the Icelandic people and their four-legged companions.
Exploring Iceland on horseback is a unique and unforgettable experience. Whether you're riding through the rugged highlands, trotting along black sand beaches, or traversing the lush green valleys, the Icelandic horse will take you on a magical journey, immersing you in the breathtaking landscapes and captivating spirit of this extraordinary island.
The Icelandic horse is not just a mode of transportation; it's a symbol of Icelandic heritage, resilience, and the harmonious relationship between humans and animals. Their beauty, versatility, and gentle nature make them cherished companions and ambassadors of Icelandic culture, leaving an indelible mark on all those fortunate enough to encounter them.
Þingvallavegur, 806, Iceland
Here is another tourist information center. Feel free to pop in and learn another thing or two. Don’t loiter too long though, we have much much more to explore!
Þingvallavegur, 806, Iceland
We have a few minutes of driving ahead of us, so while you enjoy the beautiful landscape, let me tell you about some of the animals that can be found here.
With its rugged and breathtaking landscapes, Iceland is not only a haven for nature enthusiasts but also home to a diverse array of unique and fascinating animals. From the charismatic puffins that dot the coastal cliffs to the powerful whales that inhabit the surrounding seas, Iceland offers a captivating wildlife experience.
One of the most iconic animals in Iceland is the Arctic fox. With its thick fur that changes color with the seasons, the Arctic fox is perfectly adapted to the harsh Arctic conditions. It is a nimble predator, hunting small mammals and birds, and its playful nature adds a touch of charm to the wilderness.
Along the coastline, colonies of adorable puffins gather, their colorful beaks and distinctive markings making them instantly recognizable. These charming seabirds spend most of their lives at sea, only returning to land to breed. Watching them dive gracefully into the water or clumsily take flight is a sight to behold.
In the waters surrounding Iceland, majestic whales reign supreme. From the humpback whales known for their acrobatic displays to the mighty orcas that command respect, these marine giants offer a truly awe-inspiring sight. Visitors have the opportunity to embark on whale-watching excursions to catch a glimpse of these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.
Other animals that call Iceland home include reindeer, seals, dolphins, and a wide variety of bird species such as the majestic white-tailed eagle and the agile gyrfalcon. Exploring Iceland's wilderness provides endless opportunities to encounter these fascinating creatures in their natural habitats.
Whether it's spotting a puffin perched on a cliff edge, witnessing the raw power of a breaching whale, or simply marveling at the resilience of Arctic foxes in their snowy environment, Iceland offers an unforgettable experience for animal lovers and adventurers alike.
We are almost there, and if you don’t get out and take this in, you will regret it.
The Hrafnagjá Observation Deck is a captivating architectural masterpiece that offers visitors an awe-inspiring vantage point over the stunning Icelandic landscape. Located near the Thingvellir National Park, it stands as a testament to modern design blending seamlessly with the natural environment.
Rising gracefully from the rugged terrain, the observation deck is an elegant structure crafted from sleek, sustainable materials. Its unique design, inspired by the iconic Icelandic bird, the raven, pays homage to the country's rich folklore and mythical heritage. The deck's curvilinear form mimics the raven's outstretched wings, creating a striking silhouette against the backdrop of mountains, lakes, and geologic wonders.
As visitors ascend the deck, they are greeted with panoramic vistas that stretch as far as the eye can see. The unobstructed views provide an unparalleled opportunity to immerse oneself in Iceland's breathtaking natural beauty. Whether it's the sprawling lava fields, the tranquil azure lakes, or the majestic peaks, every angle reveals a new facet of the country's enchanting allure.
The deck is thoughtfully designed to accommodate both solitude seekers and groups of travelers. Serene seating areas with comfortable benches and ample space invite visitors to relax, reflect, and soak in the tranquility of the surroundings. For those eager to capture the perfect photograph, strategically placed viewing platforms provide stable footing and unobstructed sightlines, ensuring that every snapshot encapsulates the grandeur of the Icelandic landscape.
To enhance the experience, the observation deck incorporates interactive exhibits and informative displays that delve into the region's geological and cultural significance. Visitors can learn about the area's volcanic origins, the historical events that transpired at Thingvellir, and the delicate balance between nature and human impact. These educational elements serve to deepen the appreciation for the remarkable environment surrounding the observation deck.
In the evenings, as the sun descends beyond the horizon, the Hrafnagjá Observation Deck transforms into a celestial observatory. Equipped with state-of-the-art telescopes, visitors can marvel at the night sky, observing distant constellations, shimmering auroras, and the occasional shooting star.
The Hrafnagjá Observation Deck is more than a mere viewpoint; it is a harmonious integration of design, nature, and education. It offers an unforgettable experience that celebrates the wonder and splendor of Iceland's natural wonders, leaving visitors with a deep sense of awe and a lasting connection to this extraordinary land.
And speaking of this extraordinary land, soon I’ll be telling you about the Iceland Cave People. Just continue following your navigation.
Gjabakkavegur, 806, Iceland
If you want to experience how the early Icelandic people lived, you can take the next left turn and head to Laugarvatnshellir.
Laugarvatnshellir is a captivating destination that offers visitors a glimpse into the island's intriguing past. Located near Lake Laugarvatn, this historical site is home to ancient cave dwellings that provide a unique window into the lives of early settlers.
The Laugarvatnshellir caves are believed to date back to the 10th century and were primarily used as temporary shelters for travelers and fishermen passing through the area. These caves were carved out of volcanic rock, creating a natural refuge in the otherwise rugged terrain.
When visiting Laugarvatnshellir, tourists can embark on guided tours that take them deep into the caves' interior. As they explore the dimly lit chambers, visitors can envision what life was like for the early inhabitants of Iceland. The rough-hewn stone walls and minimalist furnishings offer a glimpse into the simplicity of their living conditions.
Knowledgeable guides provide fascinating insights into the history and significance of Laugarvatnshellir. They share stories about the daily routines, survival strategies, and challenges faced by the early settlers. Visitors gain a deeper understanding of the resourcefulness and resilience required to thrive in Iceland's harsh environment.
In addition to the cave dwellings, the Laugarvatnshellir tourist site boasts a serene and picturesque setting. Surrounded by the beauty of Lake Laugarvatn and the Icelandic countryside, it offers ample opportunities for peaceful walks and connection with nature.
Exploring Laugarvatnshellir is not only an educational experience but also a chance to appreciate the cultural heritage of Iceland. The site's historical significance and well-preserved caves provide a tangible link to the past, allowing visitors to connect with the early settlers who called this area home.
But, if that doesn’t interest you, don’t turn right. Just keep driving. I’m taking you to a geothermal spa and wellness center for some relaxation.
Laugarbraut 5, 840 Laugarvatn, Iceland
I promised some relaxation, didn’t I? Well, Laugarvatn Fontana is a unique geothermal spa and wellness center right here in the enchanting town of Laugarvatn, Iceland. Situated on the shores of the serene Lake Laugarvatn, this picturesque destination offers visitors a chance to relax, rejuvenate, and immerse themselves in Iceland's geothermal wonders.
At Laugarvatn Fontana, guests can indulge in a range of invigorating thermal baths and steam rooms. The site boasts several outdoor mineral-rich hot pools, heated naturally by geothermal activity, where visitors can soak and enjoy the soothing warmth amidst the stunning Icelandic landscape. The therapeutic waters provide a perfect setting to unwind and melt away stress.
One of the highlights of Laugarvatn Fontana is the unique steam baths. These traditional Icelandic steam rooms, known as "baðhús," are heated by geothermal steam rising from beneath the ground. Guests can experience the ancient bathing rituals of Iceland, where they can relax in the steam and enjoy the beneficial effects on their skin and respiratory system.
The wellness center at Laugarvatn Fontana offers various spa treatments and massages that further enhance the relaxation experience. Visitors can indulge in a range of therapeutic and rejuvenating treatments, including hot stone massages and facials, designed to promote wellness and tranquility.
Aside from the spa and wellness facilities, Laugarvatn Fontana also provides an opportunity to explore Icelandic culinary traditions. The onsite restaurant serves delicious and authentic Icelandic cuisine, offering a delightful blend of traditional dishes prepared with locally sourced ingredients. Visitors can savor the flavors of Iceland while enjoying panoramic views of Lake Laugarvatn.
Beyond the spa experience, Laugarvatn Fontana is located in an area surrounded by natural beauty. Guests can take leisurely walks along the lake's shores or embark on hiking trails that lead to stunning vistas and hidden geothermal hot springs.
Laugarvatn Fontana combines relaxation, wellness, and Icelandic traditions in a captivating way. Whether you seek a tranquil escape or an exploration of Iceland's geothermal wonders, a visit to this remarkable spa and wellness center promises an unforgettable experience that nourishes both body and soul.
After you are nice and relaxed, let’s go see an invigorating waterfall! Follow your navigation.
6FVW+26 Reykholt, Iceland
Please turn left for Bruarfoss.
Brúarfoss Waterfall is an exquisite natural wonder that enthralls visitors with its unparalleled beauty. Tucked away in the rugged Icelandic countryside, this hidden gem is a breathtaking sight to behold. What sets Brúarfoss apart is its ethereal turquoise-blue waters, which cascade down a series of rocky steps, creating a visual spectacle that is truly mesmerizing.
The vibrant blue color of the water at Brúarfoss is a result of the glacial runoff blending with crystal-clear spring water. The result is a striking contrast against the surrounding landscape, with the vivid hues of blue standing out against the lush greenery and rocky terrain. The enchanting play of light and water creates an almost otherworldly atmosphere, evoking a sense of wonder and awe.
To reach Brúarfoss, visitors embark on a scenic hike through stunning Icelandic landscapes. The journey adds to the allure of the waterfall, as it feels like a hidden treasure waiting to be discovered. As you make your way along the trail, you are treated to panoramic views of moss-covered lava fields, tranquil rivers, and untouched wilderness. The remote location and relative seclusion of Brúarfoss contribute to its pristine beauty, providing a sense of serenity and tranquility that is hard to find elsewhere.
One of the most captivating aspects of Brúarfoss is its unspoiled nature. Unlike some of Iceland's more famous waterfalls, Brúarfoss remains relatively undiscovered by mass tourism. As a result, it offers a more intimate and immersive experience for those fortunate enough to visit. Standing before the cascading waters, surrounded by the peaceful sounds of nature, you can't help but be humbled by the sheer beauty and majesty of Brúarfoss.
Brúarfoss Waterfall is a true hidden gem, a place where nature's artistry is on full display. It is a testament to the raw power and magnificence of Iceland's natural landscapes. A visit to Brúarfoss is an invitation to witness a pristine and untouched marvel that will leave an indelible mark on your heart and memories.
When you are ready, let’s hit the road again!
35, 806, Iceland
It's geyser time! Veer to the left and park your car in the parking lot. It’s time to stretch our legs and explore.
In the Geysir Geothermal Area of Iceland, you will be treated to a breathtaking array of natural wonders that showcase the remarkable power and beauty of geothermal activity. One of the highlights here is the iconic Great Geysir, which is the namesake of all geysers worldwide. While it has become less active in recent years, the occasional eruption can still occur, shooting scalding water and steam high into the sky. Witnessing this rare spectacle is an awe-inspiring experience that will leave you in awe of nature's forces.
Another star attraction in the Geysir Geothermal Area is the renowned Strokkur geyser. With remarkable reliability, Strokkur erupts every 5 to 10 minutes, creating an anticipation-filled atmosphere as you gather to witness the eruption. The moment arrives with a deep rumble, followed by a powerful surge of boiling water that shoots up to 40 meters into the air, accompanied by billowing steam. The eruptions of Strokkur provide a thrilling and captivating display of nature's might.
Beyond the geysers, the area is dotted with an array of hot springs, fumaroles, and bubbling mud pools. You really need to wander along the wooden boardwalks and get up close to these bubbling thermal marvels and witness the steam rising from the Earth's surface.
What’s that smell? I’m glad you asked. It’s sulfur! Hydrogen sulfide is a naturally occurring gas that forms when sulfur-rich minerals in the Earth's crust come into contact with water and heat. Geothermal systems, like those found in this area, involve underground water interacting with hot rocks and volcanic activity. As water percolates through the rocks, it dissolves sulfur compounds and picks up hydrogen sulfide gas along the way.
When a geyser erupts, the built-up pressure forces the water and steam, along with the dissolved hydrogen sulfide, to shoot up into the air. As the hot water and steam reach the surface, the sudden release of pressure causes the hydrogen sulfide gas to be released as well. This is why the characteristic sulfur smell is often associated with geyser eruptions.
It's important to note that while the smell of sulfur can be strong and sometimes unpleasant, it poses no immediate harm to human health in the concentrations typically encountered in geysers. However, the odor serves as a distinct reminder of the geothermal processes occurring deep beneath the Earth's surface and adds to the unique sensory experience of visiting geyser areas.
When you are ready to continue our journey, just hope back in your car and follow your navigation. I feel like a waterfall should be next. And some restrooms.
Please turn right into the parking lot up ahead. It’s time again for a leg stretch. There are also public bathrooms here, so WHEW! There’s even a cafe if you are feeling snacky. Once you are all freshened up and fed, please follow the boardwalk to the Gullfoss Waterfall overlook.
Gullfoss, or the "Golden Falls," is one of Iceland's most iconic and beloved natural wonders, attracting countless visitors each year. It’s renowned for its breathtaking beauty, power, and the captivating experience it offers to those who behold it.
Gullfoss Waterfall offers a captivating and immersive experience for visitors. Its significance extends beyond its visual beauty, as it holds a rich history and cultural importance for the Icelandic people.
Beyond its visual spectacle, Gullfoss holds significant historical and cultural importance for Icelanders. The waterfall played a pivotal role in the preservation of Iceland's natural beauty. In the early 20th century, there were plans to harness the power of Gullfoss for hydroelectricity, but the determined efforts of environmentalists, led by Sigríður Tómasdóttir, successfully fought to protect the waterfall.
A farmer's daughter from Iceland, Sigriður's commitment to conservation and her role in safeguarding Iceland's natural heritage have made her a celebrated figure in the country's history. Her legacy serves as a reminder of the power of individuals to make a lasting impact in protecting the environment.Their triumph marked an early victory for conservation and paved the way for the establishment of national parks in Iceland.
Gullfoss is known for its connection to the preservation of Iceland's natural heritage. The successful efforts to protect the waterfall from being harnessed for hydroelectricity marked a pivotal moment in the country's environmental conservation movement. This historical significance adds depth and meaning to the experience of witnessing the waterfall's power and grandeur.
6MG5+PV Reykholt, Iceland
Up next is a bridge. But even better than that is the canyon that runs underneath it.
Brúarhlöð Canyon stands as a geological marvel, shaped by the relentless force of the Hvitá River over countless centuries. The water's power has artfully sculpted the rocks into stunning pillars and formations, creating an awe-inspiring sight. Breccias and Hyaloclastite, as these stone pillars are known, defy gravity as they majestically rise from the water's surface. The water itself takes on a chalky appearance due to sediments and minerals, adding to the canyon's ethereal atmosphere as it delicately embraces the pillars.
Beyond its geological wonder, Brúarhlöð Canyon is an integral part of a vibrant ecosystem. The river and its surrounding areas host a diverse array of plant and animal life, contributing to the canyon's rich biodiversity. For an incredible perspective, observers can follow the well-trodden tracks encircling the pillars, providing superior photo opportunities compared to clambering over the rocks. Preservation is key, as visitors are urged to tread carefully, safeguarding this treasure's pristine condition for the enjoyment and appreciation of future generations.
Have you ever heard of the Northern Lights? The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis are a mesmerizing natural wonder thatcaptivates visitors from around the world. From September to April, as darkness envelops the Icelandic skies, vibrant curtains of green, pink, and purple lights dance across the horizon. Iceland's location near the Arctic Circle and its minimal light pollution create an ideal setting for witnessing this celestial spectacle. Travelers venture to remote areas like Thingvellir National Park or Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon to maximize their chances of experiencing this ethereal display.
As the shimmering lights sway and flicker above, a sense of awe and enchantment envelops onlookers, leaving them with cherished memories of a truly magical encounter with the Northern Lights in Iceland.
Keep following your navigation. Up next is a secret.
Skeiða- og Hrunamannavegur, 845 Flúðir, Iceland
Nestled in the picturesque town of Flúðir, the Secret Lagoon, or "Gamla Laugin" in Icelandic, is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. This geothermal hot spring is one of the country's oldest swimming spots, dating back to the late 19th century, and it offers a tranquil and authentic bathing experience that harks back to Iceland's past.
As you approach the Secret Lagoon, a sense of wonder takes hold. Surrounded by natural geothermal activity, the steam rising from the warm waters creates an inviting atmosphere, especially during the crisp Icelandic winters. The pool's edges are dotted with rocks and lush vegetation, adding to the natural charm of the setting.
Unlike some other geothermal baths in Iceland, the Secret Lagoon is unassuming and less crowded, making it a haven for those seeking a more intimate and secluded experience. As you slip into the warm waters, you'll feel a soothing embrace that rejuvenates both body and soul.
One of the unique aspects of the Secret Lagoon is the blend of history and modern comfort. While the pool maintains its authentic, rustic charm, recent renovations have added modern facilities, including showers and changing rooms, ensuring a comfortable visit for all.
As you float in the mineral-rich waters, you'll realize why the Secret Lagoon earned its name. This serene oasis offers a sense of exclusivity, where you can unwind, surrounded by nature's beauty and the company of fellow travelers who have stumbled upon this well-kept secret.
Beyond its soothing waters, the Secret Lagoon also provides an opportunity to connect with Iceland's geothermal wonders. Visitors can watch the geyser nearby erupt with impressive force, reminding them of the untamed energy that lies just beneath the Earth's surface.
For a peaceful and authentic geothermal experience, the Secret Lagoon is a must-visit destination in Iceland. Whether you're looking to relax after a day of exploring or simply yearning to embrace the tranquility of nature, this hidden oasis will leave you with cherished memories and a sense of having discovered something truly special in the heart of Iceland's pristine landscapes.
Biskupstungnabraut, 806, Iceland
After the next roundabout, look for Fridheimar Road and turn left. We are going to a tomato farm!
Nestled within Iceland's enchanting landscapes, the Fridheimar Tomato Farm is a unique and remarkable destination that showcases the country's innovative approach to sustainable agriculture. Located in the town of Reykholt, this family-owned farm stands as a beacon of success in cultivating tomatoes year-round, despite the island's challenging climate.
Upon entering the farm's greenhouse, visitors are greeted by a captivating sight – rows upon rows of vibrant tomato plants stretching towards the glass ceiling. The warm and inviting atmosphere of the greenhouse creates the perfect environment for the tomatoes to thrive, even during Iceland's long, dark winters.
What sets Fridheimar Tomato Farm apart is its commitment to eco-friendly practices. The farm utilizes geothermal energy to heat the greenhouse, harnessing the Earth's natural warmth and reducing its carbon footprint. Additionally, bumblebees are enlisted as pollinators, providing a natural and sustainable method for ensuring successful crop growth.
As you tour the farm, you can learn about the intricate process of tomato cultivation and witness firsthand the dedication of the farmers in nurturing these succulent fruits. The aroma of fresh basil, also grown on-site, permeates the air, creating a delightful sensory experience.
After the insightful tour, savor the fruits of the farm's labor in the cozy on-site restaurant. Here, you can indulge in delicious tomato-based dishes, such as the renowned tomato soup and tomato-inspired cocktails – a true farm-to-table experience.
The Fridheimar Tomato Farm not only offers a unique and educational agricultural adventure but also exemplifies Iceland's innovative spirit and determination to make the most of its resources. It's a place where you can witness the magic of fresh produce flourishing amidst Iceland's challenging climate, leaving them with a profound appreciation for the artistry and sustainability that lies at the heart of this exceptional farm.
4FQ3+74 Laugarás, Iceland
The town of Skálholt is just ahead.
Skálholt holds a significant place in the country's history and cultural heritage. Once an episcopal see and a center of religious and educational activities, the town played a pivotal role in shaping the course of Iceland's development.
Dating back to the 11th century, Skálholt served as a major religious and cultural hub during the time of the Icelandic Commonwealth. It was the seat of the bishopric, and religious leaders and scholars gathered here, making it an influential spiritual and educational center.
Skálholt Cathedral, the crowning jewel of the site, stands as a testament to the region's past glory. Its construction began in the 12th century, and over the centuries, it has been rebuilt and renovated numerous times. The cathedral's architecture features a blend of styles, including Gothic and Romanesque elements, and its striking interior and stained-glass windows captivate visitors with a sense of reverence and awe.
In addition to its religious importance, Skálholt has witnessed significant historical events, including the proclamation of the Reformation in Iceland during the 16th century, which marked a profound shift in the country's religious landscape.
Today, Skálholt remains an essential archaeological and historical site, inviting visitors to explore its rich heritage. The area's serene surroundings and cultural significance make it a popular destination for both locals and tourists seeking to connect with Iceland's past and gain insight into the nation's spiritual and intellectual foundations.
39C7+C7 Sólheimar, Iceland
Have you ever heard of an Eco Village? Well now you have.
Solheimar Eco Village, on your right, is a visionary and sustainable community nestled within Iceland's stunning landscapes, exemplifying the country's commitment to environmental conservation and eco-friendly practices. Located near the iconic Golden Circle route, Solheimer is a model for eco-conscious living, inviting visitors to experience a harmonious coexistence with nature.
The village's eco-friendly accommodations and facilities demonstrate a holistic approach to sustainability. Solar panels harness the abundant Icelandic sunlight, providing renewable energy to power the village's needs. Additionally, geothermal energy from nearby hot springs contributes to the community's eco-friendly power sources.
At Solheimar Eco Village, eco-conscious practices extend beyond energy usage. The village embraces organic farming and gardening, cultivating fresh produce in harmony with the land. Visitors can enjoy farm-to-table dining experiences, savoring delicious, locally-sourced meals that celebrate the flavors of Iceland's bountiful nature.
Moreover, Solheimar Eco Village offers a range of eco-tourism experiences, including guided tours of the surrounding natural wonders. Visitors can explore nearby geothermal areas, majestic waterfalls, and historic sites, all while learning about sustainable land management and the importance of preserving Iceland's delicate ecosystems.
The village serves as a living testament to the possibilities of sustainable living, inspiring others to adopt environmentally responsible practices. Solheimar Eco Village showcases how respecting and nurturing the environment can create a harmonious and fulfilling way of life, leaving a lasting impact on visitors and encouraging them to carry these eco-conscious values beyond their time in Iceland.
Kerid Crater is up next. Are you excited? Me too!
24V9+Q7 Borg, Iceland
Kerid Crater, located here in the Grímsnes area of Iceland, is a stunning and otherworldly geological wonder that captures the imagination of all who visit. Formed over 6,000 years ago, Kerid is a volcanic crater lake that offers a rare and breathtaking sight.
As you approach the rim of the crater, you will be greeted by a striking contrast of red volcanic rocks against the emerald-green waters below. The lake's vivid color is a result of the minerals and algae that thrive in the water, creating an ethereal and surreal ambiance.
Descending into the crater, you can explore the steep slopes and volcanic rock formations, providing a fascinating insight into Iceland's turbulent geological history. The caldera's interior is often covered in a velvety moss, adding to the allure of this ancient landscape.
Kerid is more than just a geological marvel; it also serves as an important ecological site, providing a habitat for various bird species and vegetation. You may spot nesting birds along the shores or marvel at the unique flora that thrives in the crater's microclimate.
Throughout the changing seasons, Kerid transforms, presenting different facets of its beauty. Whether dusted with snow in winter or surrounded by blooming wildflowers in summer, the crater offers an ever-changing and captivating scene.
Get your camera ready! The Ölfusá Overlook is a breathtaking vantage point, offering panoramic views of the Ölfusá River as it meanders through the picturesque landscape. This overlook will provide you with an unparalleled opportunity to immerse yourself in Iceland's natural beauty.
The Ölfusá River is a magnificent waterway that flows through the scenic landscapes of Iceland, leaving an indelible mark on the country's geography and culture. As one of Iceland's longest rivers, Ölfusá stretches approximately 25 miles from its source in the Þingvallavatn Lake to the North Atlantic Ocean.
Renowned for its abundant salmon population, Ölfusá is a haven for anglers seeking a thrilling fishing experience. The river's pristine waters and strong currents create the ideal conditions for salmon to thrive, attracting fishing enthusiasts from around the world.
Beyond its significance in the realm of fishing, Ölfusá plays a crucial role in shaping the landscapes it flows through. As it carves its path through the countryside, the river forms striking canyons, lush valleys, and fertile farmlands, adding to the beauty and diversity of Iceland's natural scenery.
Breiðamörk 16, 810 Hveragerði, Iceland
Welcome to the town of Hveragerði.
Hveragerði is a picturesque and geologically active town that offers a diverse range of attractions and experiences for visitors. Known as the "Hot Spring Town," Hveragerði boasts an array of geothermal wonders, making it a unique destination in Iceland.
One of the town's most notable features is its well-lit greenhouses, which utilize the abundant geothermal energy to grow fruits and vegetables year-round. These glowing greenhouses add a touch of magic to the landscape, attracting tourists and showcasing the innovative use of natural resources.
The Reykjadalur Valley, just outside Hveragerði, is a popular hiking destination where visitors can trek through steaming vents, bubbling mud pools, and witness the mesmerizing Reykjadalur Thermal River. Taking a dip in the warm waters of this thermal river amidst the serene wilderness is a cherished experience for travelers.
The Hveragerði Geothermal Park provides further insight into the town's geothermal heritage, with demonstrations of traditional underground bread baking and opportunities to enjoy natural clay foot baths.
For history and culture enthusiasts, the Árnesinga Folk Museum offers a fascinating glimpse into Hveragerði's past, showcasing Icelandic artifacts and providing a window into the village's rich heritage.
Nature lovers can explore the breathtaking landscapes surrounding Hveragerði, with hiking trails that lead to stunning canyons, waterfalls, and panoramic vistas over the colorful valley. Additionally, horseback riding tours allow visitors to immerse themselves in the Icelandic countryside and connect with the renowned Icelandic horses.
With its unique geothermal attractions, outdoor adventures, and cultural experiences, Hveragerði promises an unforgettable journey for travelers seeking to discover the natural wonders and cultural heritage of Iceland.
2J94+6H4, 816, Iceland
Hveradalir Geothermal Area, aptly named 'the Valley of the Hot Springs,' is a captivating destination that beckons those intrigued by the intricate geology of Iceland.
Nestled in the Highlands, alongside the Kjolur Highland Road, accessing Hveradalir requires a summer visit. While two-wheel-drive vehicles are permitted, car rental companies typically refrain from allowing their vehicles on this rugged terrain, making a four-wheel-drive rental or guided tour the preferred choice.
As one of Iceland's most expansive geothermal regions, Hveradalir showcases a mesmerizing array of hot springs, some offering an up-close view, while others command admiration from a safe distance. The surrounding landscape, adorned with rhyolite mountains from the Kerlingarfjoll range, adds a stunning backdrop of vibrant hues, creating a truly enchanting environment for exploration and hiking adventures.
Nestled alongside the volcanic mountain ridge of Kerlingarfjoll, Hveradalir derives its name from the abundance of hot springs gracing the region. Ranging from bubbling mud pools to expansive steaming waters, this site grants visitors a captivating glimpse into the intricate marvels of Iceland's geology.
Among Hveradalir's prime attractions are the striking natural formations shaped by the subterranean geothermal forces. As the hot waters intermingle with minerals beneath the surface, chemical reactions take place, leaving their artistic imprints in the rocks above. These unique patterns and vibrant colors add an extraordinary charm to the landscape.
The region's natural warmth fosters an ideal sanctuary for a variety of plants that thrive in this otherwise harsh environment. Thanks to the geothermal energy's nurturing touch, vegetation flourishes in places where it would typically struggle to survive, creating a fascinating contrast against the rugged terrain.
Immerse yourself in the breathtaking natural beauty of Hveradalir through an exhilarating hike, as the area offers numerous well-maintained trails, adorned with wooden steps and bridges, guiding travelers through this wondrous site. The surrounding mountains, adorned with vivid colors, create a mesmerizing backdrop to the hissing sounds of boiling water and the ethereal steam rising from the ground, resulting in an unforgettable experience that calls for your camera to capture the splendor.
Exercise caution during your exploration, staying firmly on the designated trails, as the seemingly stable surface may conceal boiling hot water beneath.
Although camping directly in Hveradalir is not allowed, fear not, as designated campsites lie nearby. For your convenience, basic amenities, including restrooms and a quaint café, are available at a mountain hut, open throughout the summer season, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable visit.
To further explore the wonders of Iceland's Highlands, an array of captivating tours beckon, offering you a chance to delve deeper into this extraordinary and diverse region.
So that was our last stop. Let’s head back to Reykjavik. It’s been a long, exciting day, hasn’t it? I know I’ve been having a great time. As we get closer to the capital city, I’ll pop in and tell you about some of the fun things there are to see and do when you get there.
Reykjavik, the vibrant capital city of Iceland, is a treasure trove of captivating sites and experiences, appealing to all types of travelers. From awe-inspiring modern architectural wonders to rich historic landmarks, Reykjavik offers a delightful mix of culture, history, and natural beauty. Among the top sites to explore are the following:
Hallgrímskirkja, an iconic church, stands tall as a symbol of Reykjavik. Its unique expressionist architecture and towering facade make it an absolute must-visit. Ascend the tower by elevator for breathtaking panoramic views of the city, offering a new perspective on the capital's beauty.
Harpa Concert Hall, a marvel of modern architecture, graces the waterfront with its enchanting glass structure. A hub for art and entertainment, Harpa hosts a diverse array of cultural events, including concerts, shows, and exhibitions.
The Sun Voyager, an elegant stainless-steel sculpture resembling a Viking ship, exudes a sense of exploration and freedom. A favorite spot for photographs, it serves as a poignant reminder of Iceland's maritime heritage.
Delve into Iceland's captivating past at the National Museum of Iceland. Fascinating exhibits, artifacts, and interactive displays provide insights into the country's settlement and Viking heritage.
Reykjavik Old Harbour is a charming area that offers boat tours, seafood restaurants, and museums. A leisurely stroll along the waterfront presents picturesque views and an opportunity to indulge in some of Iceland's freshest seafood delicacies.
Perlan, perched atop a hill, treats visitors to an observation deck with panoramic views of Reykjavik and its surroundings. Within its glass-domed structure lie interactive exhibitions and a revolving restaurant, promising a memorable experience.
Explore the bustling Laugavegur Street, Reykjavik's main shopping and dining hub. With an array of boutiques, cafes, and restaurants, this lively street is perfect for immersing in local fashion, savoring Icelandic cuisine, and finding unique souvenirs.
Art enthusiasts will delight in the Reykjavik Art Museum, spread across three locations. Discover Icelandic and international art at Hafnarhús, Kjarvalsstaðir, and Ásmundarsafn, offering a diverse collection of artistic expressions.
Tjörnin, the picturesque heart of the city, is a serene lake attracting numerous bird species. It provides a peaceful environment for leisurely strolls and birdwatching, amidst the urban setting.
Lastly, the Settlement Exhibition offers an insightful journey into Iceland's Viking history through interactive exhibits and archaeological findings, shedding light on the early settlement and culture of the country.
In Reykjavik, travelers will find a dynamic blend of history, culture, and natural splendor, making it a captivating destination that leaves visitors with cherished memories and a deeper connection to Iceland's remarkable heritage.
So there you have it! How was the tour? What were your favorite sites? Did you indulge in any hot spring soaks? Thanks for going on this journey with me. UCPlaces has many more tours that are sure to entertain you. This is Dave signing out. So long, and happy touring!