As you can probably see from literally all of my other blog posts so far, I’ve recently been on a two week trip to Iceland. I went as part of a Student Environment Research Team (SERT) for Bournemouth University. I am a geography student and have visited Iceland before so I knew I would have the best time ever! We did so much while we were there (read all about it in my other posts) but I thought I’d put together a list of the top ten things which I’d recommend doing whilst visiting Iceland in the summer time. Some of the things listed won’t be possible in the winter but others might just simply be better with a bit of sunshine.
10. Downtown Reykjavik.
I would definitely recommend have a good look around Reykjavik city centre. If you’re only in the country for a few days I would say its well worth spending a whole day exploring Reykjavik. There is so much to see/do it would be better to spend a couple of days but I’m well aware most people don’t visit for two weeks like I did. The Harpa concert hall was my favourite building (very photogenic) and the hotdogs which they sell from little stalls in the street are delicious and cheap.
This is the famous statue in Reykjavik looking out onto the water. This would probably be incorporated into a day spent in downtown reykjavik as it is only a five minute walk from the Harpa building but it could easily be missed.
8. The midnight sun
If you’re going to be visiting in the summer then most probably you won’t be able to miss the fact that it just doesn’t get dark EVER! On a nice sunny evening it was amazing to actually watch the sun set at midnight.
7. The Beach/Perlan Building
This would definitely need to be done on a sunny day. We did both the Perlan and the beach on the same day as they are only a short walk from each other so I would recommend this. The views from the top of the Perlan were amazing and the beach was pretty cool. There are two manmade hot baths on the beach and then a sectioned off part of the sea which was much colder. We chose a day which was actually really hot so it was nice to lie on the sand.
6. Mount Esja
We decided to do this very last minute as we’d umm’d and arr’d about it the whole trip. There is one bus route from Reykjavik (which we were not very impressed with to be honest) that runs quite infrequently. There are a number of different paths to take up the mountain and we decided upon the medium difficulty one (they’re rated with 1, 2 or 3 walking boot symbols). I’d never climbed a mountain before so I was very pleased when we reached the top (and very exhausted). If you’re staying in/near Reykjavik for a bit longer, I’d say this is definitely something everyone should try, there were even a lot of children climbing with grandparents.
5. Blue or Secret Lagoon
The last time I came to Iceland we visited the famous Blue Lagoon. Having initially wanted to visit again, we looked up the possible ways of getting there etc. As we were on such a tight student budget we thought we’d got for the cheaper option of the Secret Lagoon which was included in one of the tour days. Having now been to both lagoons I would recommend either as they are very different. The Blue Lagoon is much more popular with tourists than the Secret Lagoon but both are equally as interesting and relaxing. 100% worth a visit to a natural hot spring if you’re in Iceland.
4. Black Sand Beach at Vik (and Puffins)
As part of the Beautiful South Coast tour, we were able to visit the black sand beach at Vik. It was incredibly interesting and absolutely stunning. As we visited during Puffin season we were lucky enough to see loads of them flying from the top of the sea cliff into the sea to catch fish. I would also recommend going to Dyrholaey Natural Arch (the southernmost point of Iceland) as there were some amazing photo opportunities.
This was one of the things I was most excited about seeing for the second time in Iceland. It really is, as my Mum would say, ‘Nature at its best’. Stokkur (the biggest one) erupts every 5-8 minutes and you can’t miss it. We spent the whole time trying to take the best photos possible. I’d say this would be good as part of a tour as there is only so much time you can spend watching the same Geysir erupt.
I would 1000000% recommend going to at least one waterfall (there are quite a few to choose from). We were lucky enough to go to 3 of the famous ones; Gullfoss, Skógafoss and Seljalandfoss. Gullfoss is the very wide one, Skógafoss is the one you can climb up besides and view from the top and Seljalandfoss is the one you can wander behind for even better photos. All three were amazing and I’d say you can’t visit Iceland without visiting at least one waterfall!
I’m not sure anybody thinks of Iceland without thinking of Glaciers (it is ICEland after all). Last time I went to Iceland I was able to walk on the glacier as part of the tour package my school had chosen. This time we simply visited the Sóheimajökull glacier and were able to touch the ice. Even this was pretty cool I have to say. I’m fairly sure most tours can incorporate going to a glacier so I would definitely say its worth doing!
I hope this post can be helpful to anybody thinking about going to Iceland. There are loads of other things which can be done, but this is my top ten for things to be done on a bit more of a budget.