Belfast Telegraph

5 Unmissable Experiences in Iceland

There aren't many places in the world that have such contrasting dramatic landscapes as Iceland. From the Blue Lagoon to glaciers and fjords, Iceland is an enchanting country just waiting to be explored.

It is one of few places in the world where it is possible to see the amazing Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights and the unusual and versatile landscape will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.

If Iceland is on your bucket-list, we’ve compiled a list of our Top 5 Unmissable Experiences to help you plan your perfect getaway.

1. See the Northern Lights

The main event on a trip to Iceland is undoubtedly the once-in-a-lifetime chance of seeing the Northern Lights. Sightings of the fabled Aurora Borealis are never a guarantee when you travel to Iceland, but the best time to seek them out is between October and April. Your chances of catching this elusive and unpredictable occurrence can be greatly increased with the help of a local guide who is more familiar with the weather patterns and atmospheric conditions.

If you are lucky enough to enjoy a beautiful clear night in Iceland, it is generally advisable to travel outside of the city to a secluded location, free of any light pollution from the city. For those that have witnessed the phenomenon in action, they generally describe it as seeing the sky light up with shades of white, green and purple light dancing and flickering from one side of the night’s sky to the other. The light show is undeniably captivating and is number one on our list of unmissable experiences!

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Solo traveler walking in front of an awesome Northern Lights in Mount Kirkjufell Iceland.

2. The Golden Circle

A tour of Iceland’s Golden Circle typically consists of three historically significant and naturally beautiful sites. The first one is the Thingvellir National Park. Roughly translated, this means Parliament Plains, and was once home to Iceland’s political meetings and trial sites. The people would come from all over Iceland on horseback to meet and hold parliament and political leaders would clash in physical battles to the death.

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Tourists in Iceland

The second stop on the Golden Circle tour is the Geyser fields in the valley of Haukadalur. These geothermal geysers are absolutely fascinating. The water beneath the surface boils to 100 degrees Celsius before erupting in spectacular fashion out of a hole in the ground’s surface, with the water spouting to nearly 40 feet high. This process repeats itself every 10 minutes or so and this is a great place to get some iconic photographs.

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The Geyser fields in the valley of Haukadalur

The final stop on the tour is Gulfoss. Named the “golden waterfall”, when the sun hits it at just the right time, multiple rainbows and beams of light will begin to reflect and dance off the water’s surface. The sheer cold and powerful winds felt when standing in front of this natural beast are an experience that will stay with you for years to come.

3. Iceland’s Southern Shore

Although not as vast as the Golden Waterfall, the Skogar Falls are just as impressive and powerful, with a height of over 60m and a fall that usually leaves travellers standing in front of at least two rainbows. Further along Iceland’s Southern Shore you’ll come across Reynisfjar. This volcanic black sandy beach is home to several bird species that are highly sought-after by bird watchers worldwide, including the famed Puffins. It is unlike any beach you’ll ever have seen before. Dangerous, powerful, mystical and beautiful all at once, this is a site you don’t want to miss while in Iceland.

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The Skogar Falls are just as impressive and powerful, with a height of over 60m and a fall that usually leaves travellers standing in front of at least two rainbows

4. Reykjavik City Tour

With a population of roughly 123,000 people, Reykjavik is one of the world’s smallest capitals, but this doesn’t stop the city from boasting one of the world’s best art and literature scenes. There are dozens of unique buildings and churches to visit in Reykjavik. The HARPA concert hall and Hallgrimskirkja, a modern church, are just two of the must-see architectural marvels. If architecture isn’t your thing, Reykjavik offers numerous restaurants with meals ranging from local dishes, such as Fin Whale Burgers and Fermented Shark, to the classic pizza and pasta dishes found worldwide.

As well as restaurants, local bars can be found throughout the main street and most of them have fun themes running daily. Our recommendation is to take one of the many widely available walking tours of the city, as they are incredibly informative and Reykjavik has a rich and fascinating history just waiting to be discovered.

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Reykjavik is one of the world’s smallest capitals

5. The Blue Lagoon

About a 40 minute drive from Reykjavik, Iceland’s Blue Lagoon sits in the midst of an inactive lava field, and is one of Iceland’s most popular tourist destinations. In the spirit of the natural geothermal spas and pools found throughout Iceland, the Blue Lagoon is a man-made lagoon which utilises mineral rich geothermal water, said to have the power to heal skin conditions and much more. We would recommend spending a few hours at the Blue Lagoon unwinding and recovering in the therapeutic water. With spa facilities, in-water massages, sauna, steam rooms, café, in-lagoon bars and a high end restaurant you could easily spend more than half the day relaxing by the water and eating lunch inside the facility.

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Blue Lagoon

Explore these unmissable experiences in Iceland and more with Belfast Telegraph Travel who offer a great selection of guided holidays, in association with Travel Department.  Travel Department is one of Europe’s leading guided holiday companies with over 20 years’ experience organising fantastic tours to over 100 destinations worldwide.  Our holidays are fully guided, which means that they include return flights, hotel accommodation, guided transfers and expert local guides for all excursions that are included in the holiday.

These holidays are truly great value and are competitively priced. To learn more about planning your trip to Iceland, please visit bt.traveldepartment.co.uk

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