Iceland: Ice Caves, Northern Lights, Frozen Waterfalls, and Hot Springs

Ranked by travellers as one of the most beautiful countries in the world, Iceland is place unlike any other. No matter where you look, you’ll constantly encounter glistening glacier lagoons, powerful waterfalls, and breathtaking landscapes plucked straight from the realms of fantasy.

Even the sky in Iceland is an aesthetic masterpiece, treating locals and visitors to unforgettable natural wonders, from the Northern Lights, to the Midnight Sun. With so many natural wonders to discover, it’s difficult to pinpoint just a few outdoor highlights you can’t afford to miss. 

But we’ve done our best! Here are some of the most phenomenal experiences for nature lovers to discover when visiting Iceland. 

Upon arriving in Iceland, even the Keflavik airport transfers offers a glimpse into the country’s awe-inspiring natural beauty, setting the tone for an unforgettable journey

Iceland’s Glaciers and Ice Caves

While it might not be quite as frosty as you’d think, around 11% of Iceland’s total land area is covered in ice, making it a glacial paradise. Take a trip to the Jökulsárlón lagoon near Vatnajökull National Park, and you’ll discover huge diamond-like icebergs floating on the surface. 

We recommend visiting just in time to catch the sunset, to watch the colors dance and sparkle across the ice, while sipping a delicious mug of hot chocolate. 

If you’re looking for an opportunity to explore some ice caves, you can check out the famous Eyjafjallajökull, a glacier that actually holds an active volcano trapped beneath the ice. Entering an ice cave is like stepping into another world, with cyan blue glitter all around you. 

Keep in mind, ice caves in Iceland generally collapse over summer and re-form over winter, so ever cave-diving experience is bound to deliver something new. 

The Unforgettable Waterfalls

Iceland is home to some of the most incredible and iconic waterfalls in the world. There are literally thousands located throughout the country. Many are even conveniently located next to hiking trails for avid outdoor adventurers. 

Make sure you take time to visit Gullfoss, one of the most amazing waterfalls in the Golden circle. The waterfall thunders over a 33m drop, before plunging into a mile-long gorge. For a picturesque experience, surrounded by greenery, head over to Seljalandsfoss. 

Located around 125kmn from Reykjavik, this fall tumbles from a former sea cliff, and there are even opportunities to walk underneath it, if you don’t mind potentially getting splashed. We also recommend checking out Dettifoss and Godafoss, found in north East Iceland, for some amazing photos you won’t be able to resist uploading to Instagram.

Vast Icelandic Volcanos

If the colder weather in Iceland has you aching for something warmer, why not try a trip to one of the 32 active volcano systems in the region? A volcanic eruption happens around once every 4-5 years in Iceland, so you might even see a volcano in action. 

Even if you don’t spot a live eruption, exploring a volcano is a truly magnificent experience. You can explore the tracks of the solidified lava flows around the ground, and even check out lava caves. Visitors can even hike up to freshly formed craters like Magni and Móði, which emerged from the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in 2010. 

Alternatively, if you’re feeling daring, you can climb to the peak to the highest volcano in Iceland, Hvannadalshnúkur, or check out the ice caves at the foot of the deadliest volcano in the region, Katla. 

Geysers and Hot Springs

Speaking of great spots for heat seekers, Iceland is home to a number of active geothermal sites, which include bubbling hot springs, and incredible Geysers. One of the most popular spots in the Golden Circle is the site of the highly active geyser, Strokkur. 

It erupts every 4-10 minutes or so, and its water can reach heights of up to 30m. This location is also pretty close to the Gulfoss waterfall, so you can check two things off your bucket list at once. 

For an amazing bathing experience, or a romantic relaxation session, visit the geothermal pools at Laugarvatn Fontana, built on top of a naturally occurring hot spring. Alternatively, if you want to stick close to the airport, visit the Blue Lagoon. 

This unforgettable hot spring is one of the best-known in Iceland, and it’s listed as one of the 25 Wonders of the World according to National Geographic. The waters are rich in minerals that are great for the skin, and there’s even a world-class spa nearby. 

Diamond and Black Sandy Beaches

The beaches in Iceland look as though they belong to another planet. If you love strolling along by the shore, make sure you visit the black sand beach at Vik. In the sunlight, you can see the rocks glow red beneath your feet, while the waves crash into the shore. 

For an experience truly unlike any other, visit the Diamond beach on the Breiðamerkursandur glacial plain. It’s close to the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon on Iceland’s South Coast, and features both black sand, as well as large chunks of ice, spread across the shore. 

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even take a boat ride through the lagoon for a new vantage point, and some extra stunning photos. Reynisfjara Beach is another one worth visiting, made famous for being featured in the show “Game of Thrones”. 

The Northern Lights

A trip to Iceland just isn’t complete without at least trying to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights. This ethereal light show, created in the stunning, star-strewn sky, is something everyone should have an opportunity to witness at least once. 

Visiting Iceland between the months of September and April will give you the best shot at seeing this natural wonder. This is when the sky is darkest and relatively clear. However, it’s a good idea to bundle up warm, as the weather can be pretty cold. 

Joining a Northern Lights tour group will also help you find the best viewing location. When the Aurora is active, it fills the sky with cosmic swirls of yellow, green, pink, and violet. Even the locals never get bored of this phenomenal outdoor event.

The Midnight Sun

The Midnight Sun might not get as much attention as the Northern Lights, but it’s still quite the spectacle for Scandinavian tourists. Occurring around the polar circles each Summer, and peaking in June, certain areas experience 24-hour sunlight. 

In northern regions of Iceland, the sun hangs just above the horizon all night long. In the southern regions, it can occasionally dip slightly below the horizon. Despite the sun always being present, the entire country experiences unforgettable sunsets and sunrises. 

Golden and pink hues paint the skies for hours at a time, offering a truly heavenly viewing experience. If you can pair a viewing with an adventure to a local landmark, you’ll be sure to capture some amazing photos for your collection. 

Time to Plan your Next Icelandic Adventure?

With so many breathtaking natural experiences to discover in Iceland, it’s no wonder this location is considered one of the most magical on earth. Whether you’re exploring ice caves or feeling the power of an active volcano, a trip to Iceland is sure to be a life-changing experience.

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