Iceland Travel Guide

What to See

Iceland

Photo credit: www.traveltourismblog.com

Iceland is a pristine, virgin country brimming with beautiful landscapes and picturesque views. There are so many spectacular venues to visit in the country, and these attractions prove to be the best bets among tourists:

1) Gulfoss

Hands down, Gulfoss is Iceland’s most famous and most fabulous waterfall. This two-tier, 32-meter waterfall runs down from a steep canyon, splashing water as it reaches the bottom. Gulfoss brings the best visual spectacle during sunny days, when the water creates a beautiful rainbow across the river gorge.

Address: Southwest Iceland

2) The Blue Lagoon

If you are up for a day of rejuvenating of sight-seeing, then you need to head to the Blue Lagoon, Iceland’s best geothermic spa. Here you can laze around in the lagoon’s crystal blue waters, enjoy a spa treatment, and marvel at the view of the northern lights.

Address: Grindavik Lava Field

3) Geysir Hot Springs

Iceland’s Geysir is the world’s original hot spring – in fact, all the other geysers in the world were named after this 14th-century spout. Touted to be over 1,000 years old, it is said to have blasted 80 meters of water high into the air. In the 1950’s, rocks and rubbish temporarily deactivated the Geysir, but it began erupting again at the turn of the century when earthquakes hit Iceland.

Address: Southern Lowlands (Northern Edge)

4) Vatnajökull  National Park

Covering 10% of Iceland’s plot is the Vatnajökull National Park, home of the beautiful Vatnajökull icecap. Apart from this huge chunk of ice, the park treats its guests with the views of majestic waterfalls and breathtaking canyons. A day is not enough to roam this park, for here you can enjoy a variety of ‘winter’ activities such as ice climbing, hiking and dog-sledding.

Address: Eastern Iceland

5) Mýrdalsjökull Glacier

When it comes to adventures, nothing beats the adrenaline rush associated with climbing the Mýrdalsjökull Glacier. Located on the apex of the Katla Volcano, this glacier brings about a tiring uphill climb, yet a breathtaking view thereafter.

Address: Vik I Myrdal, Vik

6) Lake Silfra

Snorkeling in Iceland – seems out of the box, isn’t it? But you can do just that at Iceland’s famed Lake Silfra, heralded as one of the best diving sites in the entire world. Despite the fact that the crystal-clear waters were run-offs of melted icecaps, the temperature of the waters is very toasty since it is geothermally-heated, like the Blue Lagoon. At Lake Silfra, you can enjoy a marvelous dive with its colorful aquatic creatures and unique underwater rock formations.

Address: Silfra, Thingvellir

7) Pingvellir National Park

You can be at the junction of two continents – literally – by stepping foot on Pingvellir. This rift valley was formed by the clashing of Eurasian and American continental plates, and makes for a terrific trip for adventurous travelers. Apart from being a famous attraction, Pingvellir plays a huge role in history, having been the location of the meeting of the First Parliament.

Address: Thingvellir

Where to Eat

Iceland’s cuisines are just as unique as its attractions. If you want to try out the food choices that Icelanders are very proud of, then make sure to make reservations at these top-rated restaurants:

1) Grillmarket

Grillmarket is a European restaurant founded by Hrefna Rós Sætran and Guðlaugur P. Frímannsson. The menu focuses on locally-grown ingredients and ‘earthy’ foods such as barbecued, grilled and smoked fares. While the entrees cost an average of USD 150, Grillmarket’s distinct flavors make the splurge all worth it.

Address: Laekjargata 2A, Reykjavik

2) Fish Market

True to its name, the famous Fish Market of Iceland is famous for its tasteful seafood cuisines. Here, you can marvel at the culinary expertise of head chef Hrefna Rós Sætran as she whips up the freshest recipes right in front of you.
Despite its name, the two-floor restaurant, which is housed in one of the country’s oldest structures, offers stellar meat dishes and desserts as well. Entrees range from USD 15 to USD 216.

Address: Adalstraeti 12, Reykjavik

3) The Seafood Grill

For the finest Scandinavian seafood and barbeque dishes, your best choice is Seafood Grill – the restaurant of beloved chef Axel Gunnlauggson, named as Iceland’s “Chef of the Year” in the year 2010.  Icelanders don’t call the chef that for nothing – after all, thousands of diners who have tried Seafood Grill have nothing but positive reviews about its food. With its central location and romantic ambience, you will be surprised to know that its offerings only range from USD 17 to USD 50.

Address: Skolavordustigur 14, Reykjavik

4) Gallery Restaurant

The Gallery Restaurant is known for many things, the foremost of which is its food. It specializes in cuisine made of seafood and wild game, with lunch menus costing a reasonable USD 26. Its whiskey menu is as diverse as any cocktail bar you would find in Europe, to the happiness of most tourists! Apart from its fantastic treats, Gallery Restaurant diners will be treated to walls and walls of Johannes Kjarval’s artworks.

Address: Hótel Holt, Bergstaðastræti 37, Reykjavík

5) The Perlan

The Perlan is almost always synonymous to the terms “Scandinavian Fine Dining.” It is a pearl by all means, as the restaurant is situated in a hilltop surrounded by 176,000 trees. Headed by Elmar Kristjánsson and Gísli Thoroddsen, the dynamic duo brings sumptuous Icelandic fares and refreshing beverages to the table.  Yes, the menus tick at an average of USD 100, but with its spectacular views of Reykjavik (completed on a 2-hour rotation), nobody’s filing any  complaints.

Address: Oskjuhlio, Reykjavik

Where to Stay

Iceland is filled with numerous attractions, spanning across different regions. Here are the top-rated accommodations in Iceland’s key districts:

1) Reykjavik Residence Hotel

If you are planning on staying in the capital region of Reykjavik, then your best choice is the 3-star namesake residence hotel. Recommended for honeymooners and family trips, the hotel features spacious rooms and excellent services. Room rates are reasonable as well, with fees starting at USD 144.

Address: Hverfisgata 45, Reykjavik

2) Icelandair Hotel Akureyri

Dubbed the “Capital of Iceland,” Akureyri features many marvels, and one of these is the Icelandair Hotel. This contemporary 3-star hotel is deemed one of the best because of its central location, friendly staff and modern decors. Room rates start at a manageable USD 106.

Address: Thingvallastraeti 23, Akureyri

3) Lambastadir Guesthouse

If you are looking forward to a quiet vacation in calm Selfoss, then make sure to book a room at the town’s best B&B – the Lambastadir Guesthouse. The rooms are very affordable (starting at USD 101) yet the services are very commendable for its cheap price. It is also located near the town’s restaurants and shops, thus making it a favorite amongst tourists.

Address: Lambastadir, Selfoss

4) Borgarnes Bed and Breakfast

If you wish to see the Settlement Center, the Bjössaróló Park or the Center for Puppet Arts, then make sure to stay at the accessible Borgarnes Bed and Breakfast. Exteriorly, it looks like an old residence next to the sea, but once you are inside you will be treated to the modernity of spacious rooms and excellent customer service. Like most Icelandic B&Bs, the Borgarnes Bed and Breakfast offers low rates, starting at just USD 101.

Address: Skulagotu 21, Borgarnes

5) Hotel Laekur

Hella is a famous spot amongst tourists because of its proximity to the Hekla volcano and Landmannalaugar. Should you decide to visit these attractions, the best hotel choice remains to be the magnificent Hotel Laekur. The rooms are not as posh as that of the Four Seasons, but they are clean, spacious, and equipped with the common furnishings you could ever need. Perhaps the best thing is about this USD 112-a-night hotel is the fact that you can enjoy the Aurora Borealis sky show just by peeking outside your room window.

Address: Hroarslaekur, Hella

Just about the size of Kentucky state, Iceland may be a country barely known to many, but it has become a budding destination that promises no dull moment to its visitors. From northern lights to geothermal spas, there are definitely plenty of things to see and do in the famed “Land of Fire and Water.” So how about a trip today?

 


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Marv Perez