Iceland’s popularity with travelers has been skyrocketing — and with good reason. This enchanting country offers visitors gorgeous scenery and wondrous natural attractions, including geysers, fjords and waterfalls too numerous to count.
It’s also home to volcanoes as well as glaciers — hence, its nickname, “The Land of Fire and Ice.” Iceland has, in fact, become so popular that the number of visitors to this island nation actually more than doubled between 2010 and 2015, increasing from approximately 450,000 to 1.2 million.
Are you heading to Iceland, yourself, in the near future? Then you’ll definitely want to check out the following amazing attractions.
One word of warning — because Iceland has become such a huge hit with travelers, it’s important to book your shore excursions early. For example, you can no longer just show up at Iceland’s top tourist attraction, the Blue Lagoon. According to Iceland Review, visitors who do show up without an advanced booking will be denied entry to this iconic geothermal spa.
For most visitors to Iceland, a soak in the steaming turquoise waters of the Blue Lagoon is usually at the top of their list of must-see attractions. It is a unique experience that is also relaxing. And it may even be good for you.
Visitors with certain skin conditions, like psoriasis, have long claimed that they noticed that their skin appeared better after soaking in the lagoon’s mineral-laden geothermal waters. The temperature of the water, which originates approximately 6,500 feet below the surface of the earth, is generally between 98 to 104 degrees F — though that can vary depending on the time of the year and the weather.
In addition to a nice steamy soak, you can also indulge in a variety of spa treatments at this attraction, including massages and silica mud masks.
The Golden Circle
The best way to see three of Iceland’s most famous and popular attractions — Thingvellir National Park, Geysir and Gullfoss — is to sign up for the Golden Circle tour. Thingvellir is considered by many in Iceland to be its most historically important — some even say sacred — site because it was the location for Iceland’s first parliament, which was founded in 930 AD. Thingvellir, which has been declared an UNESCO World Heritage site, is also the oldest parliament site in the world. In addition, the largest natural lake in Iceland can be found in this national park.
Another point of interest? In Thingvellir, you can actually see evidence of the continental drift between two of the Earth’s plates — the North American and the Eurasian — in the form of large fissures and rifts.
The Golden Circle tour also includes a stop to view the gorgeous Gullfoss waterfall, which is located on the river Hvita. Gullfoss is a bit unusual because it is actually a two-stage waterfall. After its water plunges down one fall, it takes a right angle before falling again. This beautiful waterfall is one of Iceland’s most popular attractions. Then there is Geysir. As its name implies, Geysir is home to numerous geothermal features, including hot springs, mud pots and, of course, geysers. Its Strokkur geyser is a real crowd pleaser, erupting approximately every 10 minutes and shooting up a water column that can be almost 100 feet tall.
Check out the Glaciers
If you want to see the “ice” in Iceland, consider embarking on a glacier safari adventure, like the one offered by Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL). This excursion will take you to explore the Langjokull glacier, which is the second largest in the country. In addition to the glacier, this NCL tour also includes a stop at Thingvellir.
If you love cities, you’ll want to book an excursion to Reykjavik, which is the capital of Iceland and also its biggest city. Princess Cruises offers a motorcoach tour of Reykjavik that involves little to no walking, which makes it a perfect choice if you or anyone in your party has mobility issues.
There are also several other tours available, so depending on the one you choose, your excursion might include a visit to such attractions as the Hofdi house. This is where in 1986, President Ronald Reagan and Secretary General Mikhail Gorbachev met for the summit meeting that officially ended the Cold War. Some tours also include a drive through the old quarter of Reykjavik or to the Hallgrimskirkja church, which is the city’s most famous and prominent landmark.
Go Horseback Riding
If you are an equine lover, you won’t want to miss a chance to go exploring aboard one of the country’s iconic Icelandic horses. Short and stocky, these horses boast a two-beat and a four-beat gait in addition to being able to walk, trot and canter. The four-beat gait is so smooth that riders are said to be able to ride with a glass of champagne without spilling a drop.
No matter what you choose to do, our team has plenty of excursion ideas for our favorite cruise partners to help you discover this beautiful country.
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