It seems that almost everybody has Iceland on their bucket list and it’s no wonder the land of fire and ice is “hot” – she boasts a very dramatic landscape along with natural hot springs, volcanoes, shooting geysers and red-rock-strewn lava fields. For a country of less than 350,000 people, Iceland has shared her wonders this last year with more than six times her population. She’s a little island with a big offer of intense sightseeing.
I too couldn’t resist a stopover visit on my way to Copenhagen recently. Three full days of self-drive travels took me from the colourful, historic streets of Reykjavik to the steaming waters of the Blue Lagoon, across moon-like mountains to Vik, around the shooting geysers of the Golden Circle and over volcanic mountains to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.
Language was not a problem as most speak English, but navigating was, and more than once I found myself going in a direction completely opposite to what I should have been. The street names can be tongue twisters.
Be prepared for super high costs while keeping in mind that almost everything is imported. A baguette sandwich will feel like the cost of a full dinner and the total on the gas pump when you fill the tank is rather wondrous.
There are some great tour offerings today that will get you all around the island, including circumnavigations by sea, but if you only have a few days know that you can cover a fair bit of ground by driving.
Be prepared for variable weather that can change in minutes. I had the pleasure of rain, sleet, hail, snow, fog, blizzard and a little sun, oft times experiencing a major weather change in just minutes. Winds can be a challenge, bringing on quick-freeze weather. The drive to the airport for my departure was through blinding snow and wind, the road barely visible with the snow and sleet driving down sideways.
A morning spent in the Blue Lagoon was divine, with silicate minerals creating the milky blue color of the soothing waters. It seemed an other-worldly experience … freezing outdoor air temperature and water temperature of 37- 40C degrees. Icicles threatening the hair, but the body in blue water heaven – no wonder this geothermal wonder and oasis of relaxation is Iceland’s top attraction!
If you’re headed to Europe, definitely consider routing via this land of dramatic beauty. Iceland Air has some great stopover options.
Peggy Wright, CTC, CITM, CATS is ‘The Travel Agent Next Door.’