"In Iceland you can see the contours of the mountains wherever you go." - H. Kent
Iceland, a small country in the North Atlantic Sea is basically one continuous National Geographic documentary, with what feels like a different natural wonder of the world around every bend in the road. For years seen as a Mecca for photographers and explorers, Iceland has experienced something of a boom in its tourist industry, with budget airlines like WowAir and IcelandAir offering not only cheap flights to and from the island, but also free layover options on trips across the Atlantic. With that in mind, here is our top 5 ways to spend some time in the magical country.
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Anywho, here we go…
Wander the capital
A small city by anyone’s standards, Reykjavik somewhat lends itself to the prospect of short layovers. With all the major attractions in a small span of just a few kilometres, it is extremely easy to make your way between each one at your own pace and leave having ticked everything off the list! Must-sees include the city-defining Hallgrimskirkja church that looms over the East of the city, the national museum, and the small government buildings near the city centre. Add to that the unique Laundromat Café and the fantastic Stofan Café as well as the sun still being up at 11pm from May onwards and Reykjavik is a perfect city to spend a layover before continuing with your journey.
Climb a Mountain
While most of Iceland’s stunning mountain ranges are a fair distance away from the capital, there is one that is incredibly accessible to even the most casual of visitors. Visible from nearly anywhere in the city, the Esja mountain range is just two buses from the city centre and offers incredible views across the region. Just be sure to wear appropriate clothing and watch for the weather as wind and rain can suddenly become vicious as you make your way up to the peak… we urm found that one out the hard way!
Rent a car
If you’re in Iceland for more than a couple of days, the best way to explore the island is to rent a car and drive the infamous ring road that takes you through to practically all of the hotspots, including the pretty town of Vik and the Jokulsarlon ice lagoon. Beware though, the road was only designed to accommodate the native population and struggles during peak tourist seasons, especially when tourists randomly pull over for pictures so take care!
Tour groups can be your friend
I’m the first to admit that I am not a fan of organised tour groups. I don’t necessarily like being told where to go/ what to see/ when to move on etc, but in Iceland, these tour groups are sometimes the only way to see the natural wonders the country has (especially if you don’t drive! – I’m working on it I promise…). Check out tour companies like Bus Travel Iceland for comprehensive trips around the country in (thankfully) heated buses that even have Wi-Fi so that you can share those snaps no matter where you are! Perfect for if you have only a day or two to explore.
The Blue Lagoon is a must-see and is arguably the most convenient. Located just a short drive from Reykjavik airport, the thermal-heated spa is the perfect place to spend a couple of hours in between flights relaxing. Just be sure to book in advance to take advantage of their extensive treatments!