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Iceland: Land of Vikings, Natural Wonders and Northern Lights

The 6 unmissable visits to this incredible tourist destination.

Leopoldo Ágreda Lovera
6 min read
Iceland: Land of Vikings, Natural Wonders and Northern Lights
Icelandic landscape with northern lights in the background.

North of the European continent in the Atlantic Ocean, between the Greenland and Norwegian seas, is Iceland; a place that has large expanses of virgin nature, with dreamy waterfalls, amazing volcanoes and one of the best places to see the northern lights.

Iceland is among the countries with the best quality of life in the world, inhabited by very friendly and welcoming people, who will make you feel at ease in any of its cities or natural places.

This European country is one of the best tourist destinations in the entire earth.

Top 6 of the best places in Iceland

1. Reykjavik

Iceland: Land of Vikings, Natural Wonders and Northern Lights
Reykjavik, capital of Iceland.

Our journey begins with the capital, Reykjavík, whose name means “smoky bay” in Icelandic.

The capital of Iceland is not a large city like other European capitals, however, it offers its visitors some architectural gems, good entertainment venues, streets for shopping, or residential centers that will be connected with nature.

What to see in Reykjavik?

  • The Church of Hallgrimskirkja, for its great architectural beauty and its viewpoint, from where the best views of the city will be seen.

  • The iconic sculpture “The Old Man and the Sun”.

  • Laugavegur street, where you will find the best clothing brands, excellent restaurants, and the most renowned stores, since it is the most commercial street in Reykjavík.

  • El Barrio de los Dioses, a neighborhood surrounded by gardens, lakes, colorful houses and graffiti.

2. Circle of Gold

Iceland: Land of Vikings, Natural Wonders and Northern Lights
Gullfoss waterfall, Golden Circle, Iceland.

Also known as the Golden Circle, it is one of the biggest tourist activities to do in Iceland, managing to attract thousands of travelers from all over the world.

The route known as the Golden Circle can be done either by vehicle, or by trekking or hiking.

In it , you will see the most incredible waterfalls and lagoons in the whole country, thermal water pools, volcanoes, geysers, and the historical place where the Icelandic civilization was founded.

If you decide to explore this Icelandic paradise by trekking, the excursions along its paths will be well defined with wooden walkways; being sure that you will also find some paved roads.

The following points stand out on this route:

  • Gullfoss waterfall, where the vastness of the body of water, its impressive falls and the green surroundings, will make you feel in the place where fairies or goblins live.

  • The Strokkur and Géysir geysers, the former being one of the most famous geysers for expelling water every 5 minutes; and the second, for being the oldest on the planet, exploding on a few occasions.

  • Thingvellir, which in Castilian means, "The Plains of Parliament"; It was the place where the first Parliament of Iceland, and the world, was established.

  • Kerid volcano, with the most beautiful volcanic crater in the country.

3. Vatnajokull National Park

Iceland: Land of Vikings, Natural Wonders and Northern Lights
Summits of the Vatnajokull glacier.

The great diversity of landscapes that can be seen here, such as volcanoes, lakes or glaciers, make it one of the most visited places in Iceland. It is also the largest national park on the European continent.

Vatnajokull is the enormous glacier that gives its name to this park, where an equally impressive volcanic chain is located; with several points that reach 2,000 meters above sea level.

In this park, unique environments can sometimes be seen, for a few minutes, such as: the play of light that the soil and the sun make, the physical changes produced by precipitation, or the atmosphere full of mist or cloudiness that gives great visibility. to this landscape.

The climates are also different, although the temperate environment of Iceland always predominates.

The glacier area is the coldest, but places with a warmer temperature can be visited, full of green mountains and beautiful waterways.

In the Vatnajokull National Park, the Svartifoss waterfall stands out, which is one of the most visited in the country.

Other important attractions in this national park are:

  • The Askja volcano.

  • The Jokulsárlón Canyon or the glacial lagoon of the same name.

4. Blue Lagoon, or Blue Lagoon

Iceland: Land of Vikings, Natural Wonders and Northern Lights
Blue Lagoon, Iceland.

As Iceland has large volcanic formations at various points in its geography, in addition to the different volcanic craters, you can find hot springs such as the Blue Lagoon.

Blue Lagoon is located only 50 kilometers from the capital Reykjavík, and is a very popular place for tourists.

The thermal waters of the Blue Lagoon can reach temperatures of up to 38 °C. But it is its turquoise color motivated by the minerals of the lagoon, the characteristic that most impresses its visitors.

You can enjoy this beautiful natural landscape in the following ways:

  • In the lounger area, where you can be very comfortable, while you relax in the hot springs.

  • The hydromassage waterfalls, which will remove all the stress from your body, thanks to the movement of the water.

  • Steam baths, in saunas or its steam cave.

5. Viking World Museum

Iceland: Land of Vikings, Natural Wonders and Northern Lights
Gokstad ship, Viking World Museum.

The first group of humans to arrive on this island were the ancient Vikings, who migrated mainly from Norway, and remained isolated in Iceland for a long time.

For this reason, the Viking World Museum located in the city of Njardvik, offers its visitors multiple exhibitions on Viking history in Iceland; like those dealing with the first settlers, or the gods they followed.

But of all the priceless pieces housed in this museum, the Gokstad Ship is the jewel in the crown.

This ship is very similar to the one used by the Norwegian Vikings to reach the coast of Iceland; using it also, to arrive at the American coasts of the island of Newfoundland, located in present-day Canada.

Iceland, Northern Lights paradise

Iceland: Land of Vikings, Natural Wonders and Northern Lights
Northern lights at Skogafoss waterfall, Iceland.

The history of Iceland is full of mythological references to this wonderful phenomenon of nature.

One of these ancient mythological accounts of the Vikings indicated that the coloration of the skies on those nights represented the bridge that their warriors crossed to Valhalla; place where the dead rested.

Thanks to the fact that Iceland is one of the territories with the least light pollution in the world, the northern lights can be seen at various points in its territory.

One of these places to enjoy them is Reykjavík, which despite being its capital city, these magical celestial lights can sometimes be seen.

The best places to see the Northern Lights in Iceland are:

  • Skogafoss waterfall, where the water from the ground mirrors the northern lights in the sky.

  • Haifoss, a waterfall located in the highlands of the country, where there are greater chances of observing the northern lights, due to its proximity to the poles.

  • Husavik, where you can also watch whales.

  • Stoksness, the best Northern Lights beach in all of Iceland.