Posted on 03/16/2018
A hidden treasure since the days of its discovery by Norwegian explorers, Iceland is a hotbed of surprises—even beyond volcano Eyjafjallajokull and the famous steaming Blue Lagoon. According to legend, the misnomer for this green land was intentional, a deterrent to settlers who might want to intrude on the Vikings’ newfound haven. Since 2010, travel to this once virtually unknown destination has erupted like the geysers you’ll find in its Golden Circle, making there no hotter place to explore than Iceland.
Europe’s closest American neighbor, recently popularized as a filming location for HBO’s landmark Game of Thrones series, is also one of Europe’s most accessible destinations with flights as short as four to five hours from the United States’ East Coast. From Reykjavik’s trendy dining and nightlife to the majestic landscape complete with volcanoes, black-sand beaches, waterfalls, and glacial lagoons, it’s easy to see to see why American’s are continuing to flock to the “Land of Fire and Ice.”
Activities from whale-watching to volcanic cave exploration provide myriad opportunities for vacationers to discover one of the world’s last environmentally pristine destinations. Quaint fishing villages, medieval trading posts, and many more opportunities allow visitors to dive into full cultural immersion. And of course, don’t forget the opportunity to view one of the most awe-inspiring natural phenomena, the Northern Lights.
Even with the plethora of experiences available, the most appealing is the draw of the Icelandic people. Warm and friendly, they love speaking with visitors and sharing the history of their small country. Ask about tales of the Huldufolk, or Icelandic elves to be regaled during your travel. Be assured that not much will be lost in translation; Iceland’s residents are English-speaking, and ease of communication lends itself to a family-friendly and safe experience, as well as an entertaining one.
One of the best ways to experience Iceland, is by escorted tour, which allows visitors to see more and experience rarer encounters than venturing out solo. A tour of southern Iceland will have you walking on black sand beaches and standing next to some of the most picturesque waterfalls in the world.
Among the most popular of all tours is that of the Golden Circle, a popular route along Ring Road. The three primary stops are Strokkur Geyser (which erupts every five minutes or so), Gullfoss Waterfall, and Thingvellir National Park. Along the way, you may even have the opportunity to stop and see the Icelandic horses. They may be smaller in size but don’t call them ponies!
It’s easy to see why Iceland is quickly becoming a top bucket list destination for a variety of traveler demographics. From adventure-minded Millennials to mature travelers seeking a once-in-a-lifetime experience, this friendly, wild country offers just the beautiful escape from the mundane and ordinary vacationers are looking for.