We’ve been dreaming about Iceland for years. It may not make sense for some, but we really had a feeling that it would be magical. Finally, after finding a ridiculous ticket of $600 round trip from Florida, we spontaneously decided to book it. The next day. Technically, it was a birthday present from the hubby, and I happily accepted – so excited that I wasn’t able to sleep the month leading up to our departure.
For our trip, we recruited my father and step-mom with promises of adventure. We rented a car and decided to trek through the mountainous island as only crazy Floridians would do with zero experience. The weather in Iceland turned out to be pretty schizophrenic, sunny one minute and snowing with winds that could knock a horse over the next, which certainly made driving a challenge.
Iceland was, in short, gorgeous. The landscape, the people, the food. We could go on forever. It’s really just one of those places that is hard to articulate, and for this reason, we decided to post our top 10 experiences to inspire anyone interested in taking the plunge.
Behold, we bring you Iceland and the top 10 reasons we love this country.
#10 – The Safety
What is the #10 reason we love Iceland? The capital, Reykjavík, has a population of only 120,000, and is one of the cleanest, greenest, and safest cities in the world. The people were warm, friendly, and welcoming.
#9 – The Architecture
Hallgrímur is the tallest building in Iceland’s capital and the largest church in the country. The church aims to mirror the rugged mountains and volcanoes of Iceland.
View from the church. We loved all the colorful rooftops!
#8 – The Golden Circle
One of the most common travel routes when visiting Iceland is through the Golden Circle, which is a 300 km drive, looping from Reykjavik into central Iceland and back. (#7 – #3 are all sites on the Golden Circle)
#7 – Thingvellir National Park
Thingvellir (or Þingvellir) In Icelandic that Þ is pronounced as ‘th’. Thingvellir is a massive National Park and also the site of a rift valley where the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a divergent tectonic plate, moves apart at a rate of about 2.5 cm per year. You can even see where the tectonic plates are separating!
The views over Thingvellir National Park are beyond stunning, especially as we visited early in the morning when the sun was rising. After a few hours, we nervously looked at our gas tank to ensure we could escape if needed. Luckily we were too busy being in awe, as none of us had ever seen such a landscape. White snow was as far as your eye could see! Thankfully, we made it out unscathed and with plenty of gas.
#6 – Gullfoss Waterfall
The Golden Circle also takes you to Gullfoss Waterfall. This is where Hvítá River rushes downstream and flows over three steps that look almost like part of a staircase, before splitting in two and then plunging into a deep crevice.
Despite the cold, the bracing wind, and the thick layer of snow, we managed to admire the views for as long as we could stand it.
#5 – Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
Seljalandsfoss is one of the most famous waterfalls of Iceland. It was also particularly awesome because you can climb behind it!
#4 – Skógafoss Waterfall
This waterfall is called Skógafoss. Note how small the people are in the image to get a sense of the enormity.
#3 – The Great Geysir
Lastly, the circle takes you the original Geysir. We sat and waited in a circle with other travelers, incorrectly guessing when it was about to explode. Finally, we got the money shot.
#2 – The Food
You can’t go to Iceland without trying some interesting dishes. We decided to try whale and horse meat, which tasted like tuna and beef tenderloin respectively. We’re not food critics by any means, but it was by far one of the best meals we’ve ever had.
#1 – The Views
By far, absolutely the most magical thing about Iceland is the surreal views from every corner. Many days, we woke up and just started driving. Eventually, we made it to the coast, and as you can see, it was worth the drive!
Iceland was a country that we took a chance on. It welcomed us with open arms, changed our perspective on landscape and nature permanently, and left us wanting more. In our discussions with other travelers, we haven’t spoken to one person who didn’t fall completely in love with it after visiting.