Best places to visit in Iceland
Iceland is a cold and incredibly beautiful country in the North Atlantic Ocean. Its name is translated as "the land of ice”. People have lived on this harsh land for centuries. They have made it a true center of world tourism. Vacation in Iceland is atypical; it is not for everyone. But those who still dare to come here get into the northern fairy tale with a touch of fantasy. On the territory of this small country are thermal springs, unique natural sites, and conceptual architectural structures. Among the harsh natural conditions, they look especially breathtaking and majestic. The scenery here is so far from the usual that you can shoot a fantastic movie without any scenery. Tourists come to Iceland to climb the hill and be in silence, to immerse the tired body in the turquoise waters of Blue Lagoon and to catch the long-awaited relaxation, to taste the local herring and feel with your taste buds why they call it "the Icelandic gold", to push through the crowds near geyser Strokkur in the Valley of Geysers, to watch birds and symbols of Iceland's dead ends, including in the neighborhood of Bjargtangar lighthouse... There are many reasons to come here on the next flight and to explore the sights of Iceland.
Thingvellir is a valley located in the southwest of Iceland, and the park with the same name was inscribed in 2004 on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The assembly place of the parliament, the so-called Althingi, was founded in Thingvellir more than a thousand years ago, in 930, when the first settlers decided to start forming a new nation-the Icelanders. It is believed that after that, the Viking descendants who had feuded among themselves united into one nation. And in the year 1000, Thingvellir decided to accept Christianity.
From a geological point of view, Thingvellir is of great interest because the valley is located in the Mid-Atlantic Ridge fault zone, where the plates of the two continents, Eurasian and North American, diverge in opposite directions. The main attraction of the national park is the rift valley, where the fault of the two plates passes. The surface of the earth in this area is covered with lava, cracks, and canyons. The valley expands about 7 mm per year, and in the national park, you can see the edges of the tectonic plates and even cross from one continent to another. There are hiking trails in the park for tourists. The park is home to about 150 plant species and about 50 animal species. There are many hills covered with snow-capped peaks. The entire park is crossed by the Yoksara River, which ends with the Oxararfoss waterfall.
The lake, Tingvallavatn, is located to the south of the reef near Iceland, covering 84 square kilometers. Thingvallavatn is over 12 thousand years old, and its deepest mark of 114 m is 13 m below sea level. The lake has 3 islands, and among the animals, it has coho salmon, a few species of char, large specimens, which reach more than 20 kg, stickleback, and lake trout, which attract fans of fishing. The lake is considered popular with diving enthusiasts — of particular interest is the lava gorge of Silfra, filled with water, the temperature of which is maintained year-round at a temperature of 1-3 degrees. There are underwater caves and tunnels in the gorge. From the lake flows the Song River, the largest river in Iceland, on which there are three hydroelectric power plants.
The Canyon of Peningaghja
Whichever route you choose, it will certainly lead to Peningagia Canyon (Peningagia, translated from Icelandic, means "money cleft"). There are two pools in the canyon, one of which, Drekkingarhylur (Icelandic for "drowning pond"), according to legend, was used to throw women accused of witchcraft. There now hangs a plaque with their names in memory of those who were drowned.
Southwest of Lake Tingwadlawatn is Hengidl, a volcanic system consisting of two volcanoes, Hengidl proper and Chromandutindur. Hengidl's height of over 800 meters is considered one of the highest mountains in Iceland. In the area of the volcano, there are power plants that supply power to the whole of southern Iceland, and nearby is the town of Hveragerdi, known for its hot springs.
The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal pool in Iceland known worldwide. Moreover, it is unique! The lagoon is the true symbol of Iceland and one of the most popular Scandinavian resorts. The waters of the famous lagoon do have a blue hue, which almost merges with the beautiful skies of Iceland. This wonderful creation of nature is located on a peninsula called Reykjanes in the southwest. The average temperature of the water in the lagoon, regardless of the season, is about +37 - +40. This figure may slightly decrease with windy weather, rain, and snow, but the changes will be insignificant. Since the water in the basin is predominantly marine, it is saturated with sufficient salt. On average, the salt content is 2.5% and the hydrogen index is 7.5. The average depth of the lagoon is 1.5–2 m, which means the water perfectly maintains its temperature. It is 200 m wide and more than 2 km long.
Thanks to the unique composition of the water, bacteria simply do not survive in it. Mineral salts contribute to the recovery of the whole body. The water of the lagoon is also saturated with quartz, silica, and green and blue seaweed. It is due to the reflection of light by the silicon particles that the water acquires a bluish hue. Although the answer to the question about the color is not so unambiguous, many people claim that a closer look reveals that the water is rather white. It is a true pearl of Iceland. The therapeutic muds help deep cleanse and revitalize the skin, and the seaweed has a soothing and nourishing effect. The bottom of the lagoon is perfectly smooth and consists of white clay, which has unique therapeutic properties. Today, a modern spa complex, numerous cafes, restaurants, and recreation areas are built on the site of the natural pool. The resort is very popular in Iceland. Each year, the lagoon is visited by more than 300,000 tourists from around the world. There are numerous bridges to make moving around the complex easy and convenient. Waterfalls make this place even more picturesque.
Reykjavik is a wonderful city and also the capital of Iceland. Small and green, with a rich nightlife and no less rich history, amazingly clean air and many sights, it has repeatedly been voted "the best". The world's northernmost capital, the cleanest and richest city, one of the most cultural capitals, the city of literature-this is all about the "Smoky Bay", Reykjavik - the capital of Iceland. Reykjavik has several dozens of thermal pools, no industrial enterprises on its territory; and houses are heated with water from geothermal springs. The historic center, Old Reykjavik, is good both as an example of early Scandinavian architecture and as a place for strolls through the comfortable lawns between the lakes, old buildings, and structures.
Iceland's capital is famous for its northern nature, ocean coast, mountain peaks, and thermal pools, the most famous of which is the Blue Lagoon. But there are also many man-made attractions. Near the port stands Harpa Concert Hall, the second tallest building in the city, whose architecture evokes associations with the distant future. 600 meters from it, on a slight projecting into the ocean, is a famous symbol of the city-the monument "Sunny Wanderer," reminiscent of the skeleton of an ancient Viking ship. The religious sites are the futuristic Lutheran Church Hallgrimskirkja and the Catholic Cathedral Landakotskirkja in neo-Gothic style. During the day, you can visit the Folklore Museum Arbaejarsafn, where 30 open-air buildings house a vast exhibition on the history, architecture, traditions, and customs of Iceland.
Those who want to admire the views of Iceland capital from above and at the same time see one of the most unusual cultural and entertainment spaces in the world should visit the Perlan Center. It's housed in the city's enormous boiler house, which still converts the water from the thermal springs into energy. Next door is concert halls, stores, and a wax exhibition. The structure is crowned by a glass dome. There are an observation tower and a rotating restaurant with the best views of the city and its surroundings.
Videy is a one-of-a-kind location that is unknown even to tourists who have ventured out into the frozen expanses of the ancient and beautiful country of Iceland. And it's no surprise: the natural beauty of national parks, thermal geysers, and waterfalls overshadows the seemingly inconspicuous island of land nestled just 600 meters from Reykjavik. However, this small piece of land is home to the oldest surviving buildings in Iceland, which can read the history of the country. Moreover, archaeologists found that the island was inhabited as early as the 10th century, and its first inhabitants were Irish monks. But first things first.
According to a beautiful legend, in the early 20th century, the daughter of the tenant of the land where Gullfoss Falls is located wanted to throw herself off the cliff to protest against building a power plant on it. A monument to the brave girl stands on top of that very rock, and people can still enjoy the views of the unbridled element. Gullfoss is one of the popular points on the Golden Circle of Iceland, and there are always many tourists here. The zest of the waterfall is in the perpendicularly placed cascades. The height of the first stage is 11 meters, and the second is 21 meters, after which the water rushes into the gorge with a wild noise. On the first ledge is an observation deck, from where you can see the entire waterfall. To get there, you will have to walk down the gorge from the parking lot along a comfortable path, but it is slippery with water spray.
Esja is a volcano that erupted 2-3 million years ago, the "guardian angel" of Iceland capital and one of the most common names for blond Icelandic girls. Even apartments with a view of the mountain are more expensive), but Esja is also regarded as Iceland’s protector because its snow-white peak overhangs the city blocks, bringing calm and security to the hearts of once brave Vikings and seafarers. Needless to say, the marked trails along the slope of the former volcano have become one of the favorite places to walk today. There are plenty of trails along the Esja, both for amateur and professional climbers. The difficulty is indicated by the boot: from one (simple route) to three, sometimes even a red man is added to warn of a particularly dangerous section. Popular with tourists is the "trek to the stone" (the real rock, which is called Steinn), lasting 1-2 hours. The height of Esja is not great-the mountain range barely reaches 920 m, but it is extremely picturesque: lichens and mosses, tuff and basalt rocks, full-flowing streams in the spring, and all shades of green in the blooming summer. But the main beauty is, of course, the views that open at an altitude of 150-200 m. Each turn hides a new range of colors and a palette of colors, and the smooth curves of the former volcano are replaced here by views of urban development and crashing waves of the ocean.
Haukadalur Valley of Geysers
Haukadalur Valley of Geysers is a part of the popular sightseeing route, the Golden Circle of Iceland, and its proximity to the capital, Reykjavik, makes it the most visited attraction. Geysers are a rare and unusual phenomenon of nature. Here you can see them nearby, feel the power of nature and understand that the planet Earth is a living organism. When approaching the valley, you can already see islands of fog, formed by the difference in temperature between the air and water in the springs. During the cold season, it covers the entire area, making the experience of being there even more unreal. Increased volcanic activity heats the groundwater and causes it to spurt out under intense pressure, forming natural fountains.
Hval Fjord means "whale fjord" in Icelandic. It is located on the western shores of Iceland between Mosfellsbair and Akranes. It is named this way because of the whales that are found there and are periodically spotted from the shore. Rare tourists come to Whale Fjord to enjoy nature and, if they are lucky, to see whales coming here from the open ocean. The place is very picturesque: low mountains covered with grass; rocky bluffs; a mountain stream with salmon; a lake; and a country estate where farmers live, horses and sheep graze. Whale Fjord has a small museum called "War and Peace," which is dedicated to the history of the occupation of Iceland during World War II, which changed the life of this quiet countryside forever. The museum exhibition tells about those difficult times for Iceland. There are war artifacts, photographs, memories of contemporaries, and personal belongings of those who took part in the war.