Iceland Travel Guide | What to do and where to stay in Iceland

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Editor’s Note: We encourage our readers to check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for up-to-date information on how to travel safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Straddling two continental plates, Iceland is a volcanic country, a country where the landscape is constantly changing and changing, which has earned it the nickname “land of ice and fire”. As if Iceland weren’t epic enough with its otherworldly beauty, the island nation is also quite impressive politically: its abundant use of renewable energies is to be admired, as is its leadership in environmental matters. equality of the sexes: Iceland elected the first woman president in the world in 1980, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir.

Iceland is currently open fully vaccinated travelers. If this is your first trip since the start of the pandemic, you will feel relaxed in this sparsely populated country with its main attractions outdoors, lounging in the great outdoors. (However, you should check the Icelandic government website for updates related to COVID-19.)

Where you go to Iceland is just as important. In the height of summer, you can enjoy almost 24 hours of daylight (although temperatures are still cool), helping you get the most out of your visit. However, to experience the stunning Northern Lights, September through March offers the best visibility. Whenever you decide to go, here’s what you shouldn’t miss:

Discover the famous blue lagoon

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The Blue lagoon is one of Iceland’s most popular tourist attractions for good reason: the wet, pale blue water against black lava rock creates Instagram-worthy hot spring dreams. It’s close to Keflavik Airport, so it’s a perfect attraction to visit before or after your flight to Reykjavík. In the main section of the lagoon, visit the mask station to apply a complementary silica mud mask, then slide to the swim-up bar for a cocktail.

Find happiness at the Retreat Spa

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The Retreat Spa is built in an 800-year-old lava flow on the south shore of the Blue Lagoon, tapping into the unique powers of geothermal seawater to deliver treatments that will make you float. (Literally.) Treat yourself to a massage in the water, an unforgettable experience of having a massage while you float weightlessly in the heat of the lagoon. Don’t have enough? Stay in the 62-suite Retirement hotel—One of Iceland’s most luxurious hotels — so you can be the first to enter and the last to exit the lagoon every day.

Discover Icelandic cuisine at Moss restaurant

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Travel through a seven-course tasting menu at the Blue Lagoon Foam restaurant, tasting regional flavors and delicacies from Iceland’s farms, fjords and seas. From hand-caught scallops to locally made wasabi, each taste is a glimpse into Icelandic history and its reinvention. Be sure to take a look at the Wine Cellar, which was built in a lava cave following an eruption in 1226.

Visit the puffins on the Westman Islands

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The archipelago of 15 islands of Vestmannaeyjar, the Westman Islands, is home to the largest puffin colony in the world. It also has a fascinating community history and culture, including the sprangan, a tradition of climbing rocks to collect bird eggs. Heimaey, the main island, is just a 35-minute ferry ride from the south coast of Iceland, making it an incredible day trip.

Stay off the beaten track at Hotel Ranga

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Rangá Hotel is a four star hotel designed to feel like a comfortable lodge, the perfect place to stay while exploring the south coast of Iceland. Go on an adventure during the day and relax at night in one of its three geothermal heated hot tubs with magnificent views of the East Rangá River. Its remote location makes it a great place to spot the Northern Lights, with an optional Northern Lights wake-up call and an observatory equipped with a removable roof and telescopes.

Go off-roading in Thorsmork

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Thorsmork (aka Thor’s Valley) is a nature reserve in the highlands of southern Iceland teeming with spectacular scenery and a variety of hiking trails. Due to the changing rivers there is no good road to Thorsmork and even with a 4×4 car most people should not be driving themselves. Instead, go with a local guide who has a Superjeep that can handle the terrain.

Chase magnificent waterfalls

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The south coast is home to so many amazing waterfalls that you could spend an entire week exploring them all. Head to the majestic Seljalandsfoss waterfall to walk behind the falls. Two other wonders are Skógafoss off Route 1 and Godafoss in the Golden Circle (a route connecting three of Iceland’s most popular natural attractions: Pingvellir National Park; Geysir, the original geyser; and the Gullfoss waterfall). FYI, “Foss” is the Icelandic word for waterfall.

Pack lots of diapers

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The first thing to check when packing for Iceland is the weather! Even during the summer, temperatures can vary dramatically every day, so it’s essential to bring layers. For your outer layer, turn to the Icelandic heritage brand 66 ° North, which has protective and functional jackets tough enough for whatever the sky throws at you. To capture the spectacular beauty of Iceland, bring a great camera. If you are going to the Blue Lagoon, make sure it is waterproof.

If you’ve fallen in love with Iceland, book a trip here.

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