Why You Should Add Iceland to Your Bucket List Now
Given the stunning natural beauty of Iceland, not to mention the friendliness of its 334,000 citizens, it should not come as a surprise that tourism has increased by more than 20 percent every year since 2010 (and last year, the number of tourists visiting the country was more than six times its total population).
Here's how to make the most of a trip to this magical land (where more than half of the population believes in elves).
VISIT THE BLUE LAGOON
Iceland's most famous tourist destination is also one of its more luxurious activities. Its geothermal seawater exfoliates and repairs the skin with its silica mud and minerals, and since it's located between Keflavik Airport and Reykjavik, it's an easy stop to make on the way to or from Iceland’s capital city.
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TOUR THE HALLGRÍMSKIRKJA
The best view of Reykjavik is definitely from the tower of the Hallgrímskirkja, a Lutheran Church that stands 244 feet tall. It's one of the largest structures in Iceland, and the perspective it offers is like nothing else around. Admission to the church is free, and it costs about $10 to take an elevator to the top of the tower. Walking tours that include tower admission are also available.
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The view from the top of the tower
GO INSIDE A GLACIER
Iceland's second-largest glacier, Langjokull, offers one of
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SNORKEL BETWEEN CONTINENTS
The Silfra fissure, located between the Northern American and Eurasian continental plates, is known as one of the top dive sites in the world. After donning a dry suit you can snorkel along the fissure, where the visibility is more than 300 feet thanks to the water's frigid temperature (about 38 degrees
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TAKE IN THE NORTHERN LIGHTS
If you're lucky enough to be there at the right time, catching the aurora borealis is an experience you'll never forget. The dancing lights are only visible between September and April (with the optimal season occurring between November and March), and the night must be as dark as possible with very few or no clouds. Although it is possible to see them from Reykjavik, the farther away from
DINE AT A MICHELIN-STARRED RESTAURANT—OR TRY A LESS FORMAL FAVORITE
In 2017, Dill became the country's first restaurant to be awarded a Michelin star. The space evokes "a fisherman’s cottage retrofitted in a medieval church," and the New Nordic prix-fixe menu includes local specialties like Arctic char and root vegetables. Truly adventurous eaters will appreciate Grillmarkadurinn, which serves dishes like grilled puffin and reindeer and ambitious drinks like the Golden Circle, a cocktail named for the country's popular sightseeing route that includes the locally made Reyka Vodka and Björk liqueur. For more affordable fare, spend $4.50 on a hot dog at Baejarins Beztu Pylsur, the island's top-rated spot. Make sure to order it "eina með öllu," or "with everything," meaning fresh onions, fried onions, ketchup, mustard, and remoulade.
THE RETREAT AT BLUE LAGOON
Opened on April 1, the luxurious 62-suite Retreat at Blue Lagoon is built on an 800-year-old lava flow and offers guests access to a private area of the lagoon. It's also home to a subterranean spa, Moss Restaurant, and a rotating exhibition of a 1,600-piece ceramics collection from the Icelandic Museum of Design & Applied Art. Book a Lagoon Suite for direct access to a private lagoon.
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For a less-crowded alternative to the Blue Lagoon, visit
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This boutique hotel in the heart of Reykjavik is a great home base for a visit to the city. Its interiors are Art Deco-inspired, and the hotel itself is a combination of three townhouses (one of which is the former home of Nobel Prize-winning writer Halldór Laxness) that have been transformed into a modern destination. Be sure to check out Sandholt Bakery next door, which opened in 1920 and is still run by the same family.
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HOW TO GET THERE
Icelandair has been offering passengers the option to stop over in Iceland since the 1960s. Now, the program allows travelers to stop for up to seven nights without paying any additional airfare while on their way to another European destination. And with
WHEN TO GO
The summer months are the best months to visit
This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
*Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.