Short Break Itinerary: Iceland

Photo of Icelandic scenery
Victoria Mileson

Want to live like David Attenborough and explore glaciers and waterfalls? Iceland is the place to go.

Iceland is an increasingly popular destination, but you can still visit without your holiday snaps being spoiled by tourists in the background. Iceland is perfect for the wildlife-obsessed, the photography enthusiast or anyone seeking an adventure. My trip to Iceland made it my favourite place I’ve ever been to and I hope to go again once travel restrictions are lifted.

Exploring waterfalls, serene national parks and watching the Northern Lights are opportunities that you won’t get anywhere else in the same way. Largely undisturbed, you’ll see the landscape of Iceland without the tower blocks of tourist destinations that we have become so familiar with elsewhere.

Firstly, Iceland is not as cold and miserable as it may sound. My experience in Reykjavik and across the national parks was warmer than I anticipated – in both temperature and the people I met. Despite its name, it’s not actually home to just ice. There are as many volcanoes with unpronounceable names as you could ever want or need – try Eyjafjallajökull first.

If sustainability is your thing, this is somewhere to witness it being innovated firsthand

Its environment also makes it a very eco-friendly country with 99% of Iceland’s electricity coming from hydropower and Reykjavik being the most sustainable city in the world. If sustainability is your thing, this is somewhere to witness it being innovated firsthand.

A photo of people standing near volcanic (smoking) land

You can’t go to Iceland without seeing the Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights as they are commonly known. The closer to winter that you leave your trip, the clearer they will be. There are apps designed for taking pictures of the Northern Lights, so you don’t need to become a photography expert to get a good photo. Despite how cold it gets at night, it’s an experience you cannot miss. Drive out from Reykjavik for the evening as it gets dark and watch the Northern Lights as you arrive.

If sitting in the cold one evening isn’t your thing, then take a trip to the Blue Lagoon. 70% of Iceland’s visitors make their way to the Blue Lagoon, making it Iceland’s most popular attraction. National Geographic also named it one of the top 25 Wonders of the World, so a trip should definitely be high up in your plans. It’s less than half an hour away from Keflavik Airport and is ideal for unwinding after a long day of walking.

The Golden Circle tour makes sure you see the best of what Iceland has to offer. It links together the Geysir Geothermal Area, Gullfoss Waterfall and Thingvellir National Park. You can easily drive (or take an organised trip) around the Golden Circle in a day or two, with plenty of time to see the landscapes of Iceland. Make a detour to Seljalandsfoss Waterfall. It is one you can actually walk behind and, despite being impossibly loud, it’s an amazing experience.

You can be in two places at once at The Bridge Between Two Continents

Thingvellir National Park was my personal favourite part of Iceland. Don’t rush through thinking it’s nothing special; there’s a very good reason why Thingvellir National Park is so popular. It’s the only place on earth where you can see the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and you can stand in the rift valley. Not too far away, you can be in two places at once at The Bridge Between Two Continents. Thingvellir has also been known to host music festivals and so is not just an ordinary National Park! If history is more your thing, it’s not all about nature and in fact, was the site of Iceland’s parliament between the tenth and eighteenth centuries.

A photo of The Bridge Between Two Continents

Less well-known things to do in Iceland include the Fridheimar Tomato Farm. It’s a beautiful greenhouse where everything is tomato themed. They even offer tomato coffee and tomato ice cream, which as strange as they sound, are definitely something to try. Located on the Golden Circle, it fits in perfectly with the staple trip around the best spots in Iceland.

If you manage to get sick of Iceland’s amazing landscape, spend a day in Reykjavik. You can’t go to the city without seeing Hallgrímskirkja Church – it is actually visible from almost every point of Reykjavik. It’s incredible architecture, and the history surrounding it definitely offers an alternative to Iceland’s landscapes, as well as the ample street art in the city. Whale watching is also very popular in Reykjavik among the wildlife obsessed.

To conclude your trip, head to the Harpa Concert Hall by the ocean, to catch the sunset reflecting off the windows.

Victoria Mileson

Featured and in-article images courtesy of Victoria MilesonNo changes were made to the images.

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