From icy glaciers to steaming hot springs, Iceland is jam-packed with gorgeous natural scenery that’s best experienced up close. If you’re planning a trip to this one-of-a-kind Nordic nation, be sure to check out the following spots.
The Blue Lagoon
One of the most well-known tourist spots in Iceland, this geothermal spa lives up to the hype. Tourists can relax in the lagoon’s iconic blue seawater, surrounded by a beautiful lava landscape. The water in the Blue Lagoon is rich in minerals and silica, which is said to be beneficial for the skin; a nearby hotel/clinic even offers skin care treatments for visitors! The Blue Lagoon is also in a convenient location and is close to Keflavik International Airport.
The Volcano Hekla
It’s no wonder that director Ridley Scott chose the base of this massive volcano as part of the scenery in 2012’s Prometheus. In some ways, the barren land that lies at the foot of the volcano seems like an alien landscape. Meanwhile, the towering volcano itself has inspired awe for thousands of years. Hekla, which is 1500 meters high, is active and there have been dozens of significant eruptions over the years.
Þingvellir National Park
The famous Þingvellir National Park is located in southwest Iceland, and it contains the nation’s largest natural lake. Visitors can also have the unique experience of exploring in the Silfra diving spot, which is directly between the continental plates of America and Europe. If you’re a history buff, you really won’t want to miss this park — Iceland’s Parliament was established at Þingvellir back in the year 930, and for over 800 years the location served as an important political forum.
Lake Myvatn Geothermal Area
Iceland’s fourth largest lake, located in a very volcanically active area, is surrounded by unusual lava formations known as Dimmuborgir “(dark cities”). Icelandic legend says that the devil himself once fell into this spot, but whether or not you’re a believer in local lore, there’s no denying that the surrounding lava fields are seriously hot. The lava fields are full of various caves and crevices with naturally warm water in which visitors can bathe. However, temperatures vary and can be dangerous, so be sure to do your research and chat with locals before you take a dive.
This spot is ideal for nature lovers, or for anyone who is looking to go off the grid and explore some of Iceland’s lesser-known (or untouched) areas. Located in east Iceland, Húsey is nestled between two glacial rivers and boasts more plant species than any other spot in the nation. In addition to the 175 species of plants in the area, 30 species of birds nest in Húsey each spring. Other animals, such as reindeer and seals, are also prominent in the area.