Before Joe was born, I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time traveling, and loved the excitement of discovering new places. I visited lots of different and diverse places, from the Art Capitals of Europe, to the ultra modern skyscrapers of Dubai and Kuala Lumpur, to the blissful idyllic beaches of Thailand, the land of smiles. But I felt less inclined to travel so far afield with a young baby in tow, and so the last few years have been restricted to package holidays in Menorca and time spent enjoying our caravan in Snowdonia. In my head though, I have been compiling a wishlist of all the exciting, wonderful places I still wish to visit. With Joe now reaching seven, and exhibiting the same wonderlust that has always given me itchy feet, the time my well be right to harness that travel bug once again, and the place at the top of my list is Iceland.
It’s a bit of a silly question really – is there anywhere with a landscape more breathtaking and awe-inspiring that Iceland? It truly has it all, from volcanoes and mountains, to glaciers and geysers. With beaches covered in black sand, to hot springs and waterfalls, Iceland quite rightly earns the name ‘the land of fire and ice’. It is otherworldly and totally stunning in it’s uniqueness. Whether you are interested in finding out more about the Vikings, or want the chance to see the Northern Lights, Iceland is a place you must visit before you die. A true bucket list destination.
The Northern Lights
The wonderful Aurora Borealis is one of the wonders of the modern world, and Iceland is a good place to see them – especially between the months of November and March, so now is still a good time to travel. You can spot the lights in many different ways, from an organised trip, or just choosing an appropriate night to stare at the sky. Whichever way you choose, make sure you put on those layers – the best conditions for seeing the lights are when the temperature drops below freezing. Hopefully braving the cold will be rewarded by the spectacular light show.
The Blue Lagoon at Grindavik
Going to Iceland on honeymoon? Then you must visit the Blue Lagoon at Grindavik. This is a naturally heated spa that has swim up bars serving everything from health drinks to Champagne. There are also lots of restaurants at the lagoon so you can round off your day of relaxation with some fine food. This is another to-do on my bucket list, imagine being surrounded by snow sitting in the heat of the lagoon – just heavenly.
It’s all about the Whales
You can’t go all the way to Iceland and not attempt to spot the magnificent whales. You can take a whale watching trip from the harbour in Reykjavik and maybe try to spot an humpback whale. Even if you don’t get lucky, there are other wonderful forms of marine wildlife to enjoy, including porpoises and dolphins.
If you are really interested in finding out more about whales, then you could also take a trip to The Whale Museum in Husavik. Based in an old building that used to be an abandoned slaughterhouse, it is now one of the most visited places in Northern Iceland. You can check out whole whale skeletons and find out fascinating facts about these giant mammals.
History and Culture at the National Museum of Iceland
A treasure trove of artefacts that date back more than 1000 years, the National Museum of Iceland will help you understand more about the history of this most beautiful of places. There are exhibitions on Arts and Crafts, homes and settlements and social culture.
My final place of interest is Arnarfjorour, which is known as one of the most beautiful of all the Fjords. This is due to the mountains that surround it, and the magical Dyjandi waterfall (the name means thunderous). This is a great place to visit if you like hiking and being close to nature – it is simply breathtaking.
Iceland is literally a thousand landscapes and experiences tied into one island. A place to visit and never forget.