The ‘Land of Fire and Ice’ is characterised by rugged, sweeping landscapes dotted with volcanoes, geysers, thermal springs, waterfalls, fjords, glaciers and lava fields. The island’s unique panoramas have led many a film crew to brave the Nordic chill – ethereal Icelandic scenes feature in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Batman Begins, Interstellar, Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Game of Thrones to name a few.
Whilst Iceland’s scenery is stunning, it is the sheer variety of landscapes which astonishes visitors the most. Due to the country’s relatively young age – in geological terms – and its location between two major tectonic plates, striking views and stark contrasts characterise the landscape. The country offers a rare and dramatic glimpse of tectonic plates working above ground, unrivaled elsewhere in the world.
Nature lovers, prepare for the trip of a lifetime and make sure to pack your camera: who knows, you may even get a glimpse of the elusive Aurora Borealis…
The majority of Iceland’s population lives in the capital, Reykjavik. With museums, shops, bars and restaurants aplenty, the city is a thriving cultural hub and is the perfect base from which to explore the surrounding area. There are many attractions which are accessible from Reykjavik and staying in the city for the duration of your trip is a good option for those who prefer a bit of urban buzz. Otherwise another great alternative is to spend a night or two in the city and then head out to a more remote spot to submerge yourself fully in the wild beauty of the landscape.
Whilst staying in Reykjavik you should take the chance to sample some of the local food: Icelandic cuisine has a long history and some rather unusual dishes. Although you may wish to steer clear of items such as the whole sheep’s head, strips of smoked puffin or fermented shark, the seafood is fresh and plentiful and it is said the quality of their lamb is second to none. If you’re feeling particularly hungry, go for a hearty soup served in a bowl made of bread and wash it down with a refreshing Icelandic beer: the perfect end to a day of exploring.
Reykjavik is brimming with lovely boutique hotels, if you’re looking for a sleek designer number then Skuggi Hotel is a great option and is within walking distance of the city centre. Prefer to have your own private pad? Rey Boutique Apartments offers stylish and airy apartments just off the main shopping street – prime location for soaking up some city atmosphere. Another fantastic stay is Sandhotel – a gorgeous new Art Deco style hotel right on Reykjavik’s high-street – the top pick for the culture lovers.
We’ve got plenty more where those came from! View our collection of boutique hotels in Reykjavik here.
The Blue Lagoon
Located in a lava field in Grindavik – a 15-minute drive from Keflavik airport – this naturally-formed geothermal spa takes relaxation to another level. The pool’s azure waters are enriched by natural minerals and are said to have healing properties, whilst the unusual white silica mud gently cleanses and exfoliates the skin as you bathe. Replenish your mind, body and soul by spending a few peaceful hours submerged in the pool, surrounded by nature’s beauty. Due to the lagoon’s proximity to the airport, this is a convenient stop-off at the beginning or end of your trip.
The Golden Circle
This is a very popular route with Iceland’s visitors, and for good reason. The circle encompasses four fantastic natural attractions in the southwest of the island: the sweeping Þingvellir national park, the dramatic Geysir Geothermal Area, the breathtaking Gulfoss waterfall and the immense Kerið crater lake.
Whilst the Golden Circle is very accessible from Reykjavik and can be completed in around six hours, it is also a fantastic opportunity to hire a car and take some detours to lesser-known-but-just-as-stunning locations along the way. Stretching out the Golden Circle route will give you a real chance to get out the city and appreciate life in rural Iceland. And we think that waking up to a vast and peaceful panorama of mountains, lakes and steaming springs is every bit as rejuvenating as a visit to the Blue Lagoon.
There are lots of lovely hotels out in the southwest countryside including Hotel Grimsborgir: a sumptuous luxury hotel, situated in the heart of the Golden Circle, where you may be so lucky as to end up glimpsing the Northern Lights from the comfort of a geothermal hot-tub. Alternatively, you could stop off at the sleek and minimalist Ion Adventure Hotel situated on the slopes of Mount Hengill and set against a majestic backdrop of lava fields and hot springs.
Whilst the Golden Circle brushes upon the south of Iceland, nature lovers who wish to venture further in will be well rewarded. The South Coast boasts some of the island’s most glorious landscapes including the famous Reynisfjara beach with its black volcanic sands and unique rock formations, Dyrhólaey – a spectacular 120m high rock-arch home to a variety of bird life, including puffins, and Jökulsárlón – the unforgettable glacial lagoon.
If you’re planning to explore the South then Hótel Selið is a cosy base for this: 1.5 hours drive from Reykjavik, the hotel is in an ideal location to access many of the stunning sights. Built in a lovingly-renovated cowshed and with only eight rooms on site, this is an intimate and peaceful stay where you can simply relax in the beautiful surroundings. Frost and Fire is another great choice for a southern stay: 45km from Reykjavik it is situated in ‘the gateway to the south’ and each of its 22 rooms has fantastic views of the surrounding countryside. The hotel also boasts a phenomenal geothermic spa with hot springs, hot tubs, mud baths, kneipp baths and a warm river you can bathe in: a great end to a day full of adventuring.
When to go
Iceland is a land of extremes and variation and its seasons are no exception to this. Whilst winter days are short and cold, summer days are long and milder. Both seasons hold their own unique charm and are equally as attractive for a variety of reasons. It is good to bear in mind that summer is the busiest season in Iceland and attractions and hotels will be busy accordingly; conversely, during the winter some places outside Reykjavik may be closed.
October – March is the best time to visit for the Northern Lights: the sky needs to be clear and dark for this extraordinary phenomenon to be visible; therefore, whilst they are there in the summer too, it is not possible to view them due to the brightness of the sky.
If you’re a keen hiker then you should visit during the summer (May – September) for the best trekking conditions. There are many fantastic walking trails throughout the country and this is a great way to get off the beaten track and discover parts of Iceland you’d never see otherwise.
From snowmobiling and glacier treks to whale watching and lava tube caving: Iceland is bursting with unique sights and activities to discover. When designing your Icelandic tour, the travel experts at Lekker Boutique Travel take into account your likes, preferences and travel style: resulting in a tailor-made trip which is both unique and personal.
Itinerary 1: Enjoy a relaxing day at The Blue Lagoon and a glimpse of the Northern Lights in this expertly-crafted 4-day itinerary here.
Itinerary 2: For a breathtaking glacier walk and the ultimate Golden Circle tour visit here.
Itinerary 3: Find an action-packed adventure including snowmobiling and a trip to the stunning south coast here.
You’ll find more information on Lekker’s recommended activities in Iceland: including horse riding, helicopter rides and snorkeling here.
Find out more about Lekker Boutique Travel’s bespoke tours and craft your own Iceland itinerary here.
Iceland is full of lovely boutique hotels, all with that unique Scandinavian style. From trendy Art Deco hideaways to remote and cosy spots: view our full collection of boutique hotels in Iceland here.