Top 10 Sights & Natural Wonders of Iceland

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1Reykjavík

Reykjavík is the northernmost capital of the world and with approx. 120,000 inhabitants the largest city of Iceland. The name Reykjavík means “smoking bay” and is probably due to the steaming springs in the surrounding area.

Reykjavík was founded by the Viking Ingólfur Arnarson, who moved about 870 with his family and followers from Norway. Until the end of the 18th century, the place consisted of only a few farms.

Today, over 200,000 people live in the emerging region. Especially in the artistic and musical field you will find a thriving scene in Reykjavík. Artists such as “Björk”, “Sigur Rós”, “Emiliana Torrini” and “Of Monsters and Men” are already known far beyond the borders of Iceland.

Writers and visual artists such as Einar Jónsson and Ásmundur Sveinsson made a name for themselves internationally in the 20th century. Reykjavík was proclaimed the 29th UNESCO City of Literature on 2 August 2011.

2The Blue Lagoon

Bláa Lónið (Blue Lagoon) is a hot water lake that was created as a by-product of the nearby geothermal power plant. The power plant produces a 240 ° C hot mixture of sea and fresh water, from a depth of approx. 2 km, to the surface. After being used to generate electricity and operate a district heating network, the mixture flows into the surrounding lava field.

So a salt water lake has formed there with a temperature level of 37-42 ° C. The typical blue-white color is caused by diatoms, which are located in the deep water. Bathing in Bláa Lónið has proven to reduce psoriasis and other skin diseases.

A visit to the Blue Lagoon will be an unforgettable bathing and wellness stay. Highly recommended!

Tip: The Blue Lagoon is located between the airport and Reykjavík. A bathing and wellness stay is thus on the way to / from the airport.

3The „Golden Circle“

The “Golden Circle” is a classic day trip from Reykjavík. Visits Þingvellir, geyser and Gullfoss.

The old Parliament Þingvellir is located directly on the spectacular rift valley between American and European continental plate. Þingvellir translated means the “level of popular assembly”. At 930 AD Legislative assemblies were held here by Norwegian Vikings. Þingvellir is thus one of the oldest parliaments on earth. In the year 1000 the affiliation to the Christianity was decided, 1944 the Republic of Iceland proclaimed.

The “big geyser” is the eponym for all geysers, but only rarely erupts. To visit is his little brother “Strokkur” (churn), which is located next to the Geyser. His outbreaks are relatively regular at intervals of 5 to 10 minutes. The hot water column reaches a height of 25 to 35 meters.

The Gullfoss is a waterfall of the river Hvítá. Its average water flow is about 110 m³ per second. The maximum during a flood of the century was 2,000 m³ per second. The waterfall falls over two steps in total 30 meters in depth.

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The highlights of Iceland - along the Golden Circle

4Vestmannaeyjar

Vestmannaeyjar is a volcanic archipelago in the south of Iceland. Of the 15 islands, however, only Heimaey is constantly inhabited. The main island can easily be explored on foot on a day trip to the Eldfell volcano. A walk along the coast offers unique panoramas.

Since 2010, there is the new port on the opposite mainland. A boat trip takes about 30 minutes. The one way trip costs about 8 to 9 €. If you want you can take your car on the island. But much more interesting is an island exploration on foot. Solid shoes are useful because of the rocky ground.

5Skógafoss Waterfall and Laugavegur Trekking Trail

Skógafoss (forest waterfall) is 25 meters wide and crashes 66 meters into the depths over the former coastline of Iceland. On the eastern side of the waterfall, the famous trekking path Laugavegur passes.

The hike takes four days and is well signposted. On the way there are huts with fully equipped kitchens at a distance of day trips, which are usually fully booked in midsummer. Meals must be taken, but the kitchen can be used in the cabins. Camping is possible at the huts and only allowed there.

6Landmannalaugar

Landmannalaugar is famous for its hot and cold springs and the colorful mountains of the surrounding volcanoes. The Bláhnjúkur volcano, for example, consists of gray-blue Pechstein, while the reddish-brown slopes of the Brennisteinsalda volcano consist of quarternrachite or rhyolite rock.

Here, too, the Laugavegur trekking path leads past. Further hikes lead over partly steep paths to the mountain Bláhnjúkur. Another easy to walk round trail leads through the gorge Grænagil. Hikers can refresh themselves in a natural hot spring just a few meters from the trekking village.

Maps for short hiking trips and current weather information can be obtained from the tourist information office in the trekking lodge Landmannalaugar.

7Peninsula Snæfellsnes

On the peninsula Snæfellsnes (snow mountain peninsula) you will find all the scenic beauties of Iceland in the smallest area. That’s why they have been called the “Island in Miniature”. Today, the western part of the island is a national park.

Guided tours are offered by the National Park Authority in Hellnar. In the south of the peninsula you can take walks along the coast and in the lava fields.

In the north, you can take the ferry from Stykkishólmur to the idyllic island of Flatey, which served as the backdrop for the television series Nonni and Manni.

8Dettifoss Waterfall

Dettifoss is the largest waterfall in northeastern Iceland. With his height of fall, he is theoretically one of the strongest performers in European comparison. So he could provide the equivalent of an electric power of 85 MW. Nearby are the slightly smaller waterfalls Selfoss and Hafragilsfoss, which are really worth seeing.

9Lakeland Mývatn

The lake Mývatn (mosquito lake) got its name from the in summer very large mosquito swarms, which in turn are the basis for the considerable fish wealth and the diverse duck population. However, most of them are harmless mosquitoes that do not sting.

In the vicinity of the lake are numerous natural wonders of volcanic origin, which can be admired on a tour.

In the northern part of the lake, an old mine was converted into a thermal bath. The “Jarðböð” (German earth baths) and the “Mývatn Nature Bath” offer excellent swimming.

10Glacier Lagoon Jökulsárlón

Jökulsárlón means “glacial river lagoon” and is with 18 km ² the largest and also the deepest glacier lake of Iceland. The lake is known for the icebergs floating on it, which can dazzle in a variety of colors. The blue shades are caused by the different crystals in the ice and their reflection, the black comes from volcanic ash.

On the shores of the lake are numerous hiking trails, from which you can also observe the species-rich wildlife of Iceland.

The glacial lake has served as a venue for popular film productions such as James Bond – Die Another Day, James Bond 007 – In the Face of Death, Tomb Raider, Beowulf & Grendel and Batman Begins.