In the 1994 movie Mighty Ducks 2, the USA hockey coach goes on a date with one of the Iceland hockey team’s assistant coaches. On their date, he expresses how he thought Iceland was covered in ice and Greenland was green. She quickly sets the record straight by saying, “Greenland is covered with ice and Iceland is very nice!”
It’s a common misconception that a place with the name “Iceland” would be a frozen wasteland covered in snow and ice. In reality, it’s lush and full of green fields and beautiful flowers during the summertime. In the summer, you can enjoy a trip out on the water to spot some whales or go on a mountain hike and check out the remarkable views from the top. But don’t run away if you’re on the hunt for a winter escape. Iceland offers unforgettable experiences year-round, giving you options no matter what time of year you decide to travel. Take a skiing trip or visit the stunning ice caves and glaciers during the cold months. It’s also a good time to see Iceland’s spectacular light show called the aurora borealis.
An island full of unique adventures, Iceland is a destination with something for everyone. Wildlife enthusiasts will love the vast array of mammals, birds, and other animals found all over the country. It is a photographer’s dreamland with endless amounts of waterfalls, mountains and other places to snap a quick pic. With incredible experiences available in both summer and winter, read on to see when and where you should visit this special vacation spot.
Things to Do in Iceland
Jumping right into the summer activities, a great place to start your trip is in the capital city of Reykjavik. It is a good place to base yourself for a few days in close proximity to many popular destinations. Within the city you’ll find the impressive Hallgrímskirkja church which towers over all other buildings in town. At the top of the church you’ll have a 360° panoramic view of the city providing great opportunities for photos from above.
About 24 miles outside Reykjavik’s city limits is the ever-popular Blue Lagoon, a large geothermal spa where both travelers and natives go to relax and bathe in the warm water. The high concentration of silica and sulfur in the water is thought to have healing effects on certain skin conditions. In the opposite direction from the capital region, you’ll be able to enjoy a two mile hike up to Reykjadalur, a hot spring river where you can bathe while also soaking in the breathtaking views of the valley.
Another summertime experience for your Iceland trip is whale watching. More commonly found off the coast of Reykjavik during the warmer months, a short 2- to 4-hour boat ride can give you the opportunity to see minke whales, fin whales, humpbacks and Grundarfjördur orcas (killer whales). You could also catch glimpses of porpoises, dolphins and a few species of sea birds such as Puffins. Whale watching is also available during the winter, but wildlife will be scarcer during this time.
Once things start to cool off, it’s time to find some winter activities and adventures. What better way to start than by seeing the common bucket list item of the northern lights? This natural phenomenon is often seen under proper conditions during winter evenings. You’ll want to find a place with minimal light pollution under a clear night sky. Officially known as the aurora borealis, the northern lights are a must-see for anyone looking to take a trip to Iceland between September and April.
The next step worth adding to your list is a visit to the Golden Circle and tectonic plates. Some areas, like Thingvellir National Park (about 40 miles from Reykjavik), allow you to straddle the Atlantic Ocean and literally stand on two continents at once. With a foot on the west side and one on the east, you’ll be able say you were in North America and in Europe at the same time.
After Thingvellir, it will be time to see the two other key stops that make up the Golden Circle: Goldfuss waterfall and the Haukadalur Geothermal Area. Goldfuss is a beautiful waterfall that resembles three steps of a staircase that eventually pours the waters of the Hvita River into a 105-foot deep crevice. From there, you can make your way over to Haukadalur where you’ll find Geysir and Strokkur, two geysers that sit next to each other. Although Geysir has been inactive for years, Strokkur still erupts about every 10 minutes. It may only last for a few seconds but can be a fun experience if you’ve never seen a geyser in action. The best part about the Golden Circle route is that it can be done practically all year round.
Summer or the winter, Iceland has activities and entertainment to suit your desires. We’d love to work with you to create your perfect Iceland adventure. Give us a call or send an email and let us know when you’re ready to start planning. For inspiration, check out the Best of Iceland Adventure.