If I had to choose one country that I have been obsessing over for years, it’d be Iceland. There’s just something about its raw and stunning landscape, its dark winter days and long summer nights and its creative culture (in Iceland 1 in every 10 people will publish a book) that has entranced me for a long while. So, while there are dozens of reasons I want to visit Iceland, here are the top five reasons that I want to fly to Iceland today.
- Sitting in the Blue Lagoon
I am dying to sit in the Blue Lagoon while the snow is falling on a cold Icelandic day. For those that don’t know what the Blue Lagoon is, it’s a geothermal spa and is considered to be one of the 25 wonders of the world. People come from all over the world to bathe in the stunning blue waters and to slather silica mud over their bodies—an act that is supposed to be particularly healing for those suffering from psoriasis.
It’s hard not to fall in love with a country that actually believes in gnomes (well, elves- but what’s the difference?). The people of Iceland even have a name for these hidden members of the community, huldufólk, which translates to “the hidden people,” an underground and unseen population of elves, dwarves and ghosts. Icelanders are so certain of the existence of the hidden people that roads are re-routed around boulders and rock outcroppings deemed sacred and folklore persists about the bad luck encountered by those that have tried to uproot the supernatural.
- The Landscape
There is no landscape in the world quite like the landscape in Iceland. The forces of nature put on a show here, from the howling winds to the erupting geysers, the dramatic fjords shaped by the rushing water that plunges dramatically to form Iceland’s famous waterfalls. This country directly south of the Artic Circle has Europe’s largest glacier and snow-capped mountains, but it also has volcanoes that erupt in fiery explosions and black sand beaches reminiscent of Hawaii. Add the light display known as the Northern Lights (more on those below) and there’s really not a natural wonder that can’t be found in Iceland.
Photo by Moyan Brenn, Flickr Creative Commons
- Seeing the Northern Lights
The Northern Lights, also known as Aurora Borealis, are light bursts that appear in the northern sky at night. In Iceland, they’re visible from late August until the end of April, and are Iceland’s biggest draw. The Northern Lights can’t be predicted, so many visitors come during the darkest months of the year and hope to get a glimpse of the natural phenomenon. The best places to view the northern lights are outside of the main city of Reykjavik but because Iceland is so unpolluted, it is sometimes even possible to spot the lights from the middle of downtown.
- Getting a Taste of the Culture in Reykjavik
Reykjavik is the capital city of Iceland and the most populated as well- about 130,000 people live in Iceland’s largest city. Located on the coast, the city is known as the cultural center of Iceland and boasts everything that a metropolitan city has to offer- arts, shopping and fine dining. The National and Saga Museums, which feature Viking history, are popular with visitors and so are tours that feature the natural beauty of the country such as hiking and whale watching tours. Most visitors to Iceland try to stay up at least one night to take part in Iceland’s famous nightlife. Bars in Reykjavik don’t fill up until after midnight on the weekends and stay open until 4:30 in morning.