When I first visited Iceland, it was during an A Levels Geography trip to look at all the geographical features. Despite being for educational reasons, it was one of the best places on this planet that I have ever been to and it has not left my head since I visited four years ago. I enjoyed the experience that much that I want to share it with you and show you the best places that I explored in the hope that it may tempt you to catch a flight some time.
This absolute beauty of a waterfall is located in the Southwest of Iceland, just under a two hour drive from Reykjavik. As you follow the path closer and closer to the 32 metre stunning giant, the rumbling roar from the cascading water gets louder and louder and you can feel it in your chest like the base when you are at a festival. When you arrive, it looks like the water runs right into the deepest pits of the Earth. It was the end of March when I went and the snow blended in with the glistening white water and it looked ethereal.
When you think of a trip to the beach you think warm, golden sand with a tropical ocean but not at this beach. The raven-black sand is the colour it is because of the waves that erode against the basaltic rocks along cliff. There are some unique rock structures further out to sea called Reynisdranger. However, visitors should not try to swim out or go in the sea as the waves are very strong and dangerous, people can easily be swept away. The wind is also pretty strong and cold at the beach, so make sure to wear a coat (just not a white one as you will be black ash sand all over you).
Geysir Hot Spring Area
The first thing you will notice while walking round all the geysers is the smell, a very strong sulphur smell. The hot pools give off hydrogen sulphide, which creates the eggy smell. However, do not let that distract you from all the different shapes and sizes of the bubbling geysers, all of them creating a pleasant humid atmosphere. The warmth is such a contrast to the snowy landscape surrounding the spring. If you stay at a geyser long enough, you will witness a misty skyscraper of water shoot into the sky like a whale blowing water out of its blowhole.
What once was a volcano is now a dormant crater, so there is no worry that it is going to erupt while you are still down by the lake. Kerid is the name of the lake that has formed inside the crater, thus making a crater lake and visitors are able to walk down to it. The inactive caldera looks heavenly with the red and green hues along the slopes that compliment the other-worldly blue of the lake. During the freezing temperatures of winter, the water freezes, giving nature its own beautiful secluded ice rink (do not going ice skating on it!).
Now, not to brag but I did get to see these twice in the four days that I spent there. They are not a promised attraction at Iceland as you could spend a whole week there and not see them. However, when they do appear, they are the most enchanting lights you will ever see. All the greens, pinks and yellows blending and moving along with the Earth’s magnetic field is hypnotic. They changed the whole trip for me, yes Iceland is a very beautiful place but I did not feel like I had had the full experience until those moments. Unfortunately, my pictures are very bad and embarrassing to upload, the light just looks like a green blur in the sky.
Another amazing waterfall to see in Iceland and is just over a 45 minute drive from Reynisfjara beach. The unique feature to this waterfall is that visitors can walk behind the waterfall like they are discovering a secret cave. Due to the water undercutting the soft rock, it has left the top layer of hard rock overhanging which creates the cave behind it. The cavern is very prehistoric looking, it is almost like you are expecting to find caveman drawings on the wall. You do have to be careful as the path is very slippy and you will get sprayed with cold water. The immense 200ft waterfall is a hotspot for photoshoots (someone was actually having one taken when we were there) as when the sun hits the water spray, it creates a rainbow.
It was quite cloudy when I visited this waterfall, so it had this atmosphere like I had just stepped into the John Carpenter’s 80s film The Fog. Although it make look similar to Seljalandsfoss, Skogafoss falls slightly under 200ft and unfortunately there is no impressive cavern hiding behind the hazy curtain of water. However, when the sun does shine the gothic ambience is evaporates and is replaced with a spring haven, the fluorescent green on the towering cliff glows. This beauty is not that far from Seljalandsfoss being only just under a 30 minute drive from there, so it can easily be slotted into your itinerary after the previous waterfall.
There are many national parks that people can visit and all of them are as bewitching as each other. The ones people can visit are Thingvellir where you can see Thingvellir church and a giant rift due to the Eurasian Plate and North American Plate moving away from each other. Then there is Vatnajokull which is the largest national park in Iceland. It is also home to Laki, a fissure volcano which created amazing lava fields when it erupted. Another one is Snaefellsjokull National Park which is home to the Snaefellsjokill glacier that is part of an active volcano. All of them are worth a visit, you have to at least have a gander round one of them when you are there.
It is the largest church is Iceland with its colossal 74 metres tower and impressive exterior architecture. It was named to honour the Icelandic poet and pastor, Hallgrimur Petursson and is also a Lutheran Church. This is a type of Christianity that focuses on the teaching of German professor and priest, Martin Luther. The inside almost looks like you have entered Heaven with smooth white walls and arches, there is also a huge, unique organ above the entrance so make sure to look behind you when you walk in.
The Blue Lagoon
As soon as we got off the plane, the first place we visited was here and it felt like an absolute blessing after being on an early flight. If a crystal could be a liquid, then that is exactly what the water looks like, it feels like you are swimming through a majestic lagoon in a fairy tale. Another welcoming factor about it is that the water is so warm, I do not think I have ever been so cosy in water in my whole life. Visitors can take their phones into the pool as the establishment sell special waterproof cases. There is also a booth where they make special face masks that you can wear whilst you are in there. However, I do fear putting my head under any body of water so my face was quite cold and you will get a slight eggy sulphur smell while you are there but you may get used to it.
These are only some of the many places that you can go to in Iceland and hopefully you will be able to experience the others soon.
All photographs were taken by Hope Horsman and Georgina Allen