Hornstrandir Nature Reserve in the Westfjords
What is it about Iceland? Can I say, “everything?”
It’s an out-of-this-world landscape that just happens to be… in this world. Its people are so welcoming and hospitable – and kind of don’t get what all the fuss is about, which frankly, I love. And it is the kind of place you have to see to believe. Even Instagram can’t do it justice.
I recently spoke with local travel expert Gunnar Þór Pálsson from his office in Reykjavik to ask him all about his home country to better explain Iceland’s allure. Gunnar works with Elsewhere (a Lonely Planet company) creating bespoke itineraries and group adventures all around Iceland.
“I’m always trying to gauge what travelers really want from their visit, and I’m very involved and invested in the whole process,” Gunnar says. Now that Iceland is back up and running after a two-year hiatus, Gunnar says, “we’re going to have a great summer. It’s pretty booked!” I think I’ll take advantage of his insight and plan to take one of Gunnar’s Iceland itineraries for next summer. Is it 2023 yet?
Hiking Iceland's breathtaking Highlands
Welcome to Reykjavík: Your entry to Iceland is the capital of Reykjavik, a small city that is big on good times. Stroll along Laugavegur, the city’s main drag, where you’ll find the usual array of tourist shops and classic watering holes.
Check out Geysir: A must-stop along the Golden Circle, the roadside attraction called Geysir gurgles, hisses and boils all around you with fumaroles, springs and geysers that erupt on the regular. Hot times, all around.
Drive the Kjölur route: This is the real start to your Highlands adventure. You’ll ride in a rugged 4x4 traversing some of the country's most dramatic landscapes, between the Hofsjökull and Langjökull glaciers.
Take photos at Landmannalaugar: A playground for photographers and hikers where you’ll witness all the marvelousness nature can throw at you, including windswept rhyolite mountains, a rock type that creates a full spectrum of dazzling colors.
View Eldgjá: The largest volcanic canyon in the world, also called the Fire Canyon, Eldgjá was formed by a fissure created during a massive volcanic eruption sometime in the 930s CE. The canyon stretches for 40km and drops 270m at its steepest plunge down.
This group adventure from Elsewhere (a Lonely Planet company) includes off-roading, hiking and bathing amid Iceland's most stunning landscapes.
Seljalandsfoss waterfall on the South Coast of Iceland
Iceland is a volcanic island, just south of the Arctic Circle in the North Atlantic.
Catch the Flybus at Keflavík International Airport. Drive time is roughly 50 minutes.
Stay at locally-owned hotels throughout the trip, like Hrauneyjar Highland Center.
Bathe in the Blue Lagoon before you start to drive Iceland's rugged terrain.
"We are a small population, and we are gobsmacked and awed that people come all this way to see us."
You can use a credit card anywhere, so you don’t need to bother with having Icelandic króna on hand.
If you’re doing an outdoor trip, remember you’re going to wear the same pants, the same fleece jacket. Bring a bathing suit for sure, and jeans or something decent for the hotels.
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