Whatever time of year you visit Iceland, you’ll never run out of natural wonders to discover. Take a dip in a geothermal lagoon, hike across craggy sea cliffs, or head off in search of the iconic Aurora Borealis – the possibilities are truly limitless. Half a mile from Reykjavik, the islands of Akureyri and Lundey are renowned for their incredible wildlife populations. Although uninhabited by humans, both areas are home to some of the largest puffin colonies in the world, with the Akureyri nicknamed Puffin Island, as well as many other bird species such as cormorants and guillemots.
For an under populated island, Iceland certainly isn’t lacking when it comes to art and culture. In Reykjavik, the country’s capital, you’ll find a jam-packed live music scene, vibrant coffee house culture and an atmosphere that’s both forward-thinking and effortlessly laid back. In Old Reykjavik, top sights include the National Museum, the Settlement Museum and Tjörnin, the lake that sits right in the city centre.
Iceland might not seem like a beach holiday destination but in actual fact, the country is home to some truly stunning seascapes. Rauðasandur Beach (Red Beach), which backs on to the Látrabjarg Peninsula in the Westfjords, combines golden-pink sands, dramatic black rock and pearlescent waters. Because the volcanoes in this part of the country are no longer active, the sands at Rauðasandur Beach are not black (unlike most other beaches in Iceland) but change from golden, to pink, to red. To see volcanic black sands, visit Djúpalón Beach in Snæfellsjökull National Park, an area renowned for its interesting, elfin-like rock formations.
Whether you’re a city dweller or a nature-lover (or both), no holiday to Iceland would be complete without a visit to the Blue Lagoon. One of the country’s most popular attractions, these geothermal waters are a truly iconic sight. The vibrant turquoise depths are a combination of 70 percent salt water and 30 percent fresh, with natural mineral salts, algae and white silica mud – all of which are said to contribute to its healing properties. Because it’s so popular, booking is essential and it goes without saying that the lagoon can get quite crowded at peak times, but its popularity is more than justified.
One of Iceland’s most striking landmarks, Reykjavik’s Hallgrimskirkja Church can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. Modeled on the basalt rock formations that surround Svartifoss Waterfall, the church is 240ft high and took more than 40 years to build. Designed in 1937 by the architect Gudjon Samuelsson, the church takes its name from the 17th century Icelandic poet, Hallgrímur Pétursson, whose most famous work was the Passion Hymns (Passíusálmar). Offering a 360 degree panorama of Reykjavik, the view from the top is incredible, and on a clear day it’s possible to see Snaefellsjokull glacier.
Encompassing some of the country’s most awe-inspiring sights, The Golden Circle is an absolute must for any visit to Iceland. Spanning 300km, the area includes three main natural wonders: Gullfoss Waterfall, Geysir, and Þingvellir Plain, the point between North America and Europe where the tectonic plates meet. Once home to the world’s oldest parliament, Þingvellir National Park also houses Oxara Waterfall and Thingvallavatn, the biggest natural lake in Iceland.
There are few sights in the world as spectacular as the Northern Lights so it’s not surprising that they feature on most people’s travel bucket lists. Also known as the Aurora Borealis, they’re only visible between September and March, and due to the nature of the Earth’s magnetic field, only appear at the north and south poles, but if you do manage to spot them, it’ll be a moment you’ll never forget.
During the high season (June to August), Iceland gets very busy, especially in Reykjavik and the south, and flight prices will reflect this. More daylight hours and warmer temperatures (around 14 degrees) mean more activities, festivals and festivities, and it’s a great time to see the great outdoors. Between May and September the weather will be cooler, and during the low season (October to April), average at around -2 degrees. Although daylight hours are briefer, cooler temperatures offer more opportunities for winter sports and to spot the spectacular Aurora Borealis.
If you are a British citizen, you don’t need a visa to enter Iceland but you must have a valid passport. For the latest information on European travel regulations, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/iceland/entry-requirements.
The currency in Iceland is the Icelandic Krona (ISK).
The language spoken in Iceland is Icelandic.