Newest Popular Destination of Iceland

The land of fire and ice is an island of extremes — which makes it a photographer’s dream. Iceland is better in person, where the dramatic landscape pops in front of you — the jagged cliffs, the volcanic soil, the black sand beaches, the expansive ice fields —

Despite a population of just 380,000 people, Iceland is fast becoming one of northern Europe’s big travel destinations. Volcanic eruptions have thrust the small nation (it’s nearly the size of Kentucky) into the international spotlight. Travelers have come in droves; now more than two million visitors arrive annually. That’s because it’s simply an extraordinary place. For travelers after out-of-the-ordinary experiences, its ethereal landscapes, smoldering volcanoes and thermal baths are a true mecca. The Golden Circle is the country’s classic tourist route, looping from the capital Reykjavik through Thingvellir National Park and on to the iconic Gullfoss waterfall and the geysers of Strokkur and Geysir. Route 1, covering over 800 miles, skirts the country’s coastline, providing the perfect opportunity to get off the more common trail and see the island’s empty spaces in all their glory.

The country is just a 4-hour flight from the East Coast, and it’s one of the first places we’ll be going back to — save us a spot in line for the lobster soup.

This is a water-world — where you can hike on the frozen kind of millennia-old glaciers, pose by (or even behind, in some cases) the surging kind with roaring waterfalls and rushing rivers, relax in the steamy kind in spa-like lagoons and marvel at the bubbling kind in spewing geysers. 


The North of Iceland truly is a land of contrasts. Its long valleys and peninsulas are interspersed with mountains, lava fields and smooth hills carved out by rivers. The deep and numerous indentations in the coast of the North are at times lush with vegetation, at others barren. As one nears the Arctic Circle in the Northern latitudes, the midnight sun is invariably awe-inspiring.

Many towns of the North are dedicated to marine life. The Húsavík Whale Museum and the Seal Center in Hvammstangi are two options for visitors. Close by in the northern reaches of the Vatnajökull National Park is the impressive Ásbyrgi Canyon, as well as the Dettifoss Waterfall—the most powerful in Europe. The nearby Lake Mývatn and its surrounding wetlands has an exceptional variety of waterbirds and rock formations.

The North is home to Iceland’s second largest urban area, Akureyri, located in Iceland’s longest fjord, the mild-weathered Eyjafjörður. Akureyri, rich in culture and history, has a charming downtown full of late nineteenth century wooden houses. In summer, golfers can take advantage of the midnight sun at the Arctic Open. North Iceland is also home to many historic coastal towns.


The Diamond Circle can be described as a magnificent circuit of 250km in the Northeast of Iceland, which includes some of the most stunning sights and spots for unearthly landscapes.

The Diamond Circle has 5 key destinations which include the historical and picturesque Goðafoss, the unearthly blue and green landscapes of Lake Mývatn nature paradise, the uncontrollable white energy of Dettifoss the most powerful waterfall of Europe, the crescent-shaped wonder of Ásbyrgi canyon and Húsavík the buzzing whale watching capital of Iceland with the deep blue seas ahead.


The northernmost capital city in the world, Reykjavík, is home to more than half of Iceland’s population and dominates the country’s commercial and cultural life. Iceland’s first Viking settler, Ingolfur Arnarson, gave Reykjavík its name – which roughly translates to “Steamy Bay” in Old Norse – because of all the geothermal activity in the area. Today this geothermal steam is used to heat the homes of Reykjavík and is the source for the city’s many public thermal pools.

Downtown Reykjavík is Iceland’s nucleus of Iceland’s culture and arts scene. By day, the café culture rules supreme, with the lively hum of conversations. As evening arrives, people start filling into the city’s excellent restaurants, where local ingredients are served with fresh delicious lamb, seafood or wild game. 

Reykjavík is a city of bold contrasts: it is both cosmopolitan and small-town; vibrant and sophisticated; young-at-heart and yet full of history. Many monuments, new and old, are also worth a peek, including the newly built oceanfront music and conference centre,  Harpa. Luckily, everything in Reykjavík is close by, museums, galleries, theatres, cafés and swimming pools for example. As such, the city is perhaps best explored by foot or bike.

Reykjavík’s small but vibrant city center is clustered near the harbor, a walkable area of pubs, cafés, shops, and museums. Below are five main attractions in this city that you may want to educate yourself about:

  1. Arbaejarsafn (Open-Air Folk Museum): Located about 20 minutes southeast of downtown, this museum presents a collection of relocated 18th- and 19th-century houses that illustrate traditional life in Iceland.
  2. Arni Magnusson Institute:The Institute contains a collection of sagas on the original vellum, including the famous Landnamabok (or Settlement Book) and Njals Saga, which was returned from Copenhagen under a special agreement following Iceland’s independence.
  3. Asmundarsafn (Asmundur Sveinsson Sculpture Museum): Works by the Icelandic sculptor Asmundur Sveinsson, whose themes include working people and folktales, are exhibited in this museum and surrounding garden.
  4. Dómkirkjan (Lutheran Cathedral): This 18th-century church features a baptismal font sculpted by Bertel Thorvaldsen.
  5. Hallgrímskirkja (Hallgrímur’s Church): This imposing edifice, designed to resemble a vast mountain of basaltic lava, took some 40 years to build before being completed in the 1980s. Panoramic views can be enjoyed from the church’s tower.

The pulsing beat of energy and lively events keeps Reykjavík alive and exciting and people are often surprised and impressed at how much culture, art and activities thrive in the city. But besides being world-renowned for it’s vibrant culture, Reykjavík is truly the gateway to Iceland. The capital area has enough natural wonders at its doorstep to serve as a convenient base for exploring a great deal of spectacular landscape in several directions.

From the city, many day trips can also be taken to the surrounding mountains, glaciers, volcanoes and hot springs. Day-excursions from Reykjavík include horseback riding, glacier climbing, river rafting, caving, whale watching, and more.

You may wish to view blogs about other destinations –

Europe Destinations – Paris & Ireland

Israel – Land of History for Three Religions

Destination – Southern Italy

Destination – Croatia

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.