10 Reasons to Visit Iceland This Year

Now is the time to embrace dramatic landscapes and remarkable natural wonders.

U.S. News & World Report

10 Reasons to Visit Iceland This Year

Cityscape of Reykjavik, Iceland.
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(Getty Images)

Why you should plan a trip to the land of fire and ice in 2016.

Iceland has become the place to go, mostly because you can't turn a corner without stumbling upon an inspiring landscape or a natural wonder. A few years ago, Iceland was just an under-the-radar gem known only by locals and intrepid visitors. But these days, more and more tourists are flocking to Iceland's stunning geothermal spas, dramatic fjords and majestic glaciers to catch a glimpse of the country's breathtaking landscapes. More than just cascading waterfalls, northern lights and dreamy landscapes, Iceland offers plenty for visitors to uncover – from mouthwatering cuisine to genuine hospitality. Here are 10 reasons to plan a trip this year.
People relaxing at the Blue Lagoon spa in Iceland.
Credit

(Getty Images)

The healing hot springs

A volcanic wonderland, Iceland is speckled with hot springs. Start by visiting the iconic Blue Lagoon. Located outside of Iceland's capital city, Reykjavik, the lagoon consistently stays at 96 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Meanwhile, a little lesser-known hot spring, Hveragerdi, is made up of two springs, the Blue Hot Springs and Riverside Hot Springs, and is located in southern Iceland.
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Why you should plan a trip to the land of fire and ice in 2016.

Iceland has become the place to go, mostly because you can't turn a corner without stumbling upon an inspiring landscape or a natural wonder. A few years ago, Iceland was just an under-the-radar gem known only by locals and intrepid visitors. But these days, more and more tourists are flocking to Iceland's stunning geothermal spas, dramatic fjords and majestic glaciers to catch a glimpse of the country's breathtaking landscapes. More than just cascading waterfalls, northern lights and dreamy landscapes, Iceland offers plenty for visitors to uncover – from mouthwatering cuisine to genuine hospitality. Here are 10 reasons to plan a trip this year.

The healing hot springs

A volcanic wonderland, Iceland is speckled with hot springs. Start by visiting the iconic Blue Lagoon. Located outside of Iceland's capital city, Reykjavik, the lagoon consistently stays at 96 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Meanwhile, a little lesser-known hot spring, Hveragerdi, is made up of two springs, the Blue Hot Springs and Riverside Hot Springs, and is located in southern Iceland.

The breathtaking natural wonders

The best way to embrace the natural beauty Iceland has to offer is by driving along Route 1 (or Ring Road), the 830-mile highway that circles the entire country. On your road trip, you'll be met with cascading waterfalls, like Seljalandsfoss, lighthouses and epic parks, like Thorsmork National Park.

The northern lights

Few places in the world offer a more serene view of the northern lights than Iceland. For an unspoiled view of the aurora borealis, visit Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. For an urban view, visit the Grotta Lighthouse in Reykjavik or the dome-shaped Perlan (The Pearl). In the west, the Snaefellsjokull glacier offers stunning mountain backdrops for the magnificent lights.

The fresh Nordic cuisine

The island boasts an incredible bounty of seafood, from organic cod to lobsters, salmon and more. Start with dishes like plokkfiskur (fish mashed with potatoes), fresh scallop fish stew with bold seasonings or seared salmon with fresh berry jam. And you can't visit Reykjavik without stopping at it's iconic hot dog stand, which serves lamb hot dogs topped with mustard, crunchy onions and remoulade.

The welcoming locals

Proud and passionate about their culture, many residents enjoy sharing stories and myths they've heard from their families. For a taste of true Icelandic tradition, visit the Frystiklefinn (or The Freezer), which is a professional theater and hostel in the quaint town of Rif in West Iceland. Featuring the incredibly talented Kári Viðarsson, the show tells the story of one of the local legends of Rif and is packed with plenty of Icelandic humor.

The convenience factor

Flights from Washington, D.C., New York City and Boston airports to Reykjavik take less than five hours, and most routes are nonstop. Plus, Icelandair offers plenty of direct, year-round flights to Reykjavik from major hubs across the country, including Seattle, Denver, Orlando, Florida, and Vancouver, British Columbia. Another benefit of flying Icelandair is that the carrier offers short or longer stopovers in Iceland, allowing you to explore the country while in transit to another destination. Plus, the airline helps connect visitors with local tour groups and hotels in the country, making the trip-planning process easy and stress-free.

The midnight sun

In as early as May and as late as August, the sky in Iceland is bright for almost 21 hours each day. During the summer solstice, you can watch the sunset at midnight and the sunrise just before 3 a.m. in Reykjavik. Further north, the day will last even longer, giving you a chance to soak up the country's outdoor splendors all night long with sunset kayak rides, evening hikes and daylight camping.

The iconic churches

Iceland is home to some of the most well-photographed churches in the world, including the fairytale-esque Hofskirkja Church. The building is surrounded by moss-covered graves and rolling mountains, making for a memorable photo op. Meanwhile, the Hallgrimskirkja church in Reykjavik is impossible to miss with its modern and futuristic design.

The volcanoes

There are over 130 active and inactive volcanoes throughout the country thanks to Iceland's location on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Luckily, only 18 volcanoes have erupted since humans settled in the area, so visitors can still take in picturesque, snow-capped volcanoes and explore otherworldly craters today.

The ice caves

Often called the Crystal Caves, Iceland's breathtaking frozen caves form on the edge of the country's many glacial formations. Jökulsárlón on Iceland's southern coast and the man-made Langjokull, the country's second-largest glacier, are two of the most popular spots for ice caving.
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