Iceland is located in the North Atlantic Ocean just south of the Arctic Circle. It lies about 970 kilometers west of Norway and about 287 kilometers southeast from Greenland. Iceland is geologically a part of both the North American Plate and the Eurasian Plate. Capital city Reykjavik is one of the liveliest, safest, most sophisticated and modern cities there is, and its nightlife and cultural activities have earned an exciting reputation. Other towns such as Akureyri in the north are great for visiting. For those who want to see both city and nature, the wilds begin just outside urban communities and a wide range of sightseeing tours are on offer from most of them.
Gullfoss (Golden Waterfall) is an iconic waterfall of Iceland offering a spectacular view of the forces and beauty of untouched nature. Gullfoss is part of the Golden Circle tour, located in South Iceland on the Hvítá (White) river which is fed by Iceland´s second biggest glacier, the Langjökull. The water plummets down 32 meters in two stages into a rugged canyon which walls reach up to 70 meters in height. On a sunny day shimmering rainbow can be seen over the falls.
The power of the falls is incredible, yet it is not the most powerful waterfall in Iceland, or even all of Europe that would be Dettifoss. The volume of water that spills over Gullfoss is 80-140 cubic meters/second. There are several viewing points down the path, and thankfully they are only guarded by simple rope railings. This is quite refreshing to see as most natural wonders, or tourist attractions are heavily guarded with metal railings and in some cases this blocks your view or prevents you from getting as close.
Geysir is one of the main attractions on Iceland´s most popular sightseeing tour, the Golden Circle. All of the world's spouting hot springs are named after Geysir in Iceland - in all languages other than Icelandic, the word “geysir” or “geyser” names the phenomenon.
In Icelandic, it´s just the name of that single geyser, and although the word refers to all geysers in general, there´s only one real Geysir and that’s the one in south-west Iceland.
Iceland is spectacular and so is the Golden Circle Route. The wide open landscapes are like nothing you've ever seen before. Actively volcanic, this inland route is a mass of waterfalls, glaciers, geysers, lava fields, and, of course, those volcanoes. This route will take you to Þingvellir National Park, Geysir geothermal area and Gullfoss waterfall.
The first stop is Thingvellir National Park
The dramatic Gullfoss waterfall of the Hvita river crashing over the cliffs into a relatively narrow crevice is one of the most popular spots in Iceland for tourists. From some angles, you can’t even see where the water disappears, and can only see the plume of spray rising into the air.
The sheer power of water and steam erupting from the ground due to the build up of extreme heat is awesome and really makes you realize how alive the ground is beneath our feet.
The natural thermal area in the centre of the village was harnessed for the heating of greenhouses and dwellings. Nowhere else in the country are there more greenhouses in such a limited area than in Hveragerdi.
Some like it hot! Located 45 kilometers east from Reykjavik, Hveragerdi is the charming gateway town to South Iceland that is set in a large geothermal area and is often referred to as the ‘flower village,’ because of the many greenhouses there. Hveragerdi has the highest concentration of greenhouses in Iceland where residents have been harnessing geothermal energy since 1920 to provide the country with much of its home grown produce, including exotic varieties like papayas and bananas.
The farmers have prolonged the growing period with artificial lightning and thus limited the need for import of these products during winter. Many foreign visitors are quite astonished to see the inhabitants walking about taking care of their daily responsibilities with all this boiling hot water under their feet and the earth shaking every now and then.
The Landmannalaugar are geothermal nature baths and a popular attraction one should not miss. Located in the South Highlands of Iceland, the area is renowned for its stunning beauty.
The highlands of Landmannalaugar are a superb example of mind-blowing landscapes. Bathe in a natural geothermal pool, ride in a super jeep and enjoy the landscape. At Landmannalaugar you can also take a short hike and enjoy the surrounds.
This puts some people out of their comfort zone, while others find it all far too much. As probably the busiest and best-serviced place in the Icelandic Highlands. There is absolutely no ambient pollution, that you absolutely have to be soaking in the hot water while gazing upwards, and that the colours and shapes of the lights match the landscape like nowhere else.
If you've ever wanted to dive between two continental plates, there's only one place in the world you can do it, the Silfra rift in southern Iceland.
The rift and the surrounding Þingvellir National Park are part of the divergent boundary between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, which are moving away from each other at a rate of about 2 centimeters every year.
Fascinating tectonics aside, the underwater canyon is also distinguished for the clarity and purity of its water. The cold, crystal-clear water found in the Silfra fissure originates from the nearby Langjökull glacier.
The glacier's seasonal melt water is released into the ground and passes through porous underground lava rocks, which serves as a natural filtration system. After several decades, the glacial water eventually reaches the underground wells of Þingvellir Lake and the Silfra fissure. As tension builds up from the tectonic plates moving away from each other, the pure, super-filtrated water from the underground wells gradually seeps out.
Seljalandsfoss is one of the best known waterfalls in Iceland. It is ca 60 meters high and it is breathtakingly beautiful. It is a must visiting Seljalandsfoss when visiting the south-coast, you will not regret it.
It is possible to walk behind the waterfall so bring a raincoat as you will get wet from the drizzle. It is awesome walking behind Seljalandsfoss, especially on a sunny day when one can catch a rainbow. In winter time the path is closed as it gets too slippery.
Vatnajökull National Park offers its visitors a unique opportunity to experience and learn about the forceful interplay of volcanoes and glaciers. The park covers 13% of Iceland with its 13.600 km2 (5,300 square miles) and is the largest national park in Western Europe.
The Icelandic word jökull means glacier and the National Park contains the largest glacier in the world outside the Arctics, called Vatnajökull. This massive glacier has many subsidiary glacier tongues, each of which has its own name and distinct characteristics.
Vatnajökull National Park is unique in its range of contrasting natural wonders and is characterized by the perpetual struggle of fire and ice. In this area you'll see the white glacier descending to black sands, hot streams erupting from frozen banks of ice and, Iceland’s highest mountain presiding over its deepest proglacial lake.
Mýrdalsjökull is the southernmost glacier in Iceland, the fourth largest glacier, with an area of about 596 sq. km. The view on a clear day is one of the prettiest in the world. Guided snow scooter, snowmobile, Super Jeep, dog sledding and ice climbing tours are offered on the Myrdalsjökull glacier.
Travelers on the glacier have to be extremely careful about crevasses and inexperienced travelers should not go there alone. Weather conditions shift very rapidly and high winds and snowstorms can appear in a flash all year round.
The volcano Katla, in the Mýrdalsjökull glacier, has erupted on average every 40 - 60 years. Katla is one of the most famous volcanoes in the country, and it can actually be regarded as one of the most powerful volcanoes in the world and probably the largest active volcano in the northern hemisphere.
Thorsmork Valley is sheltered on both sides by glaciers which offer great views and quite often a good weather too. On this classic Iceland day tour we drive along the distinctive south coast of Iceland until the beautiful waterfall of Seljalandsfoss comes into view.
A wide valley named after Thor, the Viking God of Thunder. We drive into this beautiful valley, surrounded on three sides by steep mountains, crossing raging rivers and gentle streams, passing caves and giant boulders before stopping at the remains of a glacial lagoon at glacier of Gigjokull.
The breath-taking view of Skogáfoss waterfall and scenic surroundings and the snow-capped heights of two towering glaciers are Skógar's major summer attractions. If the sun conditions are favourable - one can see a vivid rainbow in front of the waterfalls.
Skogafoss is unique because the waterfall comes directly from two glaciers. Skogafoss works well during the winter because it is south facing. The sun hits the full face of the falls after 2PM, but the spray from the waterfall can catch the sunlight a few hours earlier.
Deildartunguhver is Europe's most powerful hot spring. Most of the water used for central heating in the towns of Borgarnes and Akranes is taken from Deildartunguhver.
The hot water pipeline to Akranes is 64 km long, the longest in Iceland and the water is about 78 - 80 degrees when it reaches Akranes. If you take a shower anywhere within a 65 km radius of the spring, you have already bathed in the hot water from this powerful spring.
Deildartunguhver hot springs
The crater lake of Ljotipollur is in the Landmannalauger uplands in southern Iceland, and was created by the vast volcanic explosion. Despite its name translating in English as ‘Ugly Puddle’, when the light is right Ljotipollur is a lake of exceptional beauty. Ljotipollur lake is best seen on summer when the sun slowly sets, illuminating the water is a great view to look out for.
Dettifoss is reputed to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe. Visitors generally approach Dettifoss on the east side of the River Jökulsá where the road through Hólssandur is better. Its about 45 meters height and 100 meters width.
The mighty Dettifoss is accompanied by two other substantial waterfalls. Selfoss is a few kilometers south and Hafragilsfoss is a few kilometers north. It is possible to reach the waterfalls from both sides of the glacial river Jokulsa, but one has to be careful when traversing the rugged terrain on foot. On the west bank there are no facilities and the view on the waterfall is somewhat hindered by the waterfall's spray.
On the east bank there is an information panel maintained by the staff of Vatnajökull National Park (Vatnajökulsþjóðgarður) and a maintained track to the best viewpoints.