With its ever-growing popularity, Iceland is anything but a hidden gem. It feels like visiting the country is on everyones bucket list these days; every time I scroll through Instagram, Iceland is one of those destinations that constantly pops up on my feed. Due to the endless amount of information about Iceland on the internet, I travelled to Iceland with high expectations. I envisioned my trip to be filled with gushing waterfalls, impressive glacier lagoons, mountains and a myriad of photogenic Icelandic horses!
But is Iceland as good as it looks on the pictures? Does it really live up to its hype? Well, keep reading and find out!
The landscapes are diverse
One thing Iceland is known for is its diversity of landscapes, which include glaciers, waterfalls, mountains, black sand beaches and craters to name a few. The country is jam-packed full of natural wonders! One of my favourite experiences in Iceland was picking up huge chunks of ice from the glacier lagoons.
No matter which area of the country you’re in, there’ll be something that’ll amaze you. Whether it was to explore the powerful cascades of a waterfall, or to gaze at the impressive sight of a deep canyon, there were countless times that we’d quickly scramble out of the car in excitement, which really does highlight the beauty of a road trip!
… but its expensive!
I’m sure you’ve heard it before, and yes, it’s true. There’s no denying that Iceland is an expensive country to travel around. With accommodation, food and transport all coming with a significant cost, it can be enough to put anyone off travelling to Iceland.
Related Post: Iceland On a Budget: 12 Ways to Save
There are SO many waterfalls
I’ve come to know Iceland as the land of fire and ice and waterfalls. Lots and lots of incredible waterfalls! When it comes these magnificent cascades, Iceland seems to have it all. There are waterfalls that you can hike to the top of, waterfalls that you can walk behind (remember to pack a raincoat… you WILL get soaked), those that are off the beaten track and those that appear as if out of nowhere as you’re driving along the ring road! With so much variety on offer, Iceland gives a very unsubtle hint that you definitely should go chasing waterfalls.
Related Post: 14 Must-See Waterfalls in Iceland
…but The Blue Lagoon is a little overrated
The Blue Lagoon is essentially one of those ‘bucket list’ activities when it comes to Iceland. It charges an extortionate amount because it’s something that is instantly associated with Iceland; when you tell your friends that you’re heading to the country, one of the first things they’ll probably ask is whether or not you’ll be visiting this popular tourist attraction.
Whilst I enjoyed our trip to The Blue Lagoon, I definitely wouldn’t pay to do it again. Despite what you might have heard, the Blue Lagoon isn’t a natural wonder, but is instead a direct result of the geothermal plant found next door. Whilst the waters are rich in minerals like silica, there’s no denying that it’s expensive. You’ll either love it or think it’s a little overrated, but the great thing is that Iceland has many alternatives on offer, which are both completely natural AND that allow entrance for no cost whatsoever! So if you’re road tripping around, my vote would be for natural hot springs. Use this website to find out their location.
It’s a country that exudes charm and character
Iceland has a population of around 330,000, so most places you go have the essence of a small town. The country undoubtedly exudes charm and character; driving along you’ll see an abundance of isolated houses and churches, the majority of which are painted white with the sweetest red-roofs! You’ll spot the remains of abandoned old homes, which have been built into the mountainside to protect from harsh climates! Whilst these all have a very logical meaning behind being there, many Icelandic people believe that these are the homes of two types of invisible people; the Álfar Elves, and Huldufólk ‘hidden people’.
… but the weather is so unpredictable!
One minute the sun is shining and the next you’ve got your scarf wrapped tightly around your neck, attempting to fight off the blistering cold wind and rain. That’s just what you can expect during a road trip around Iceland. The hint is in the name really; Iceland can get pretty cold, especially in winter! You’ll more than likely be wrapped up warm in your fleece and woolly hat than be exploring in shorts and a t-shirt.
There’s an abundance of wildlife
The wildlife in Iceland is diverse and exciting! From spotting puffins on over-crowded bird-cliffs in spring to breaching whales in the northern regions. Even the Icelandic horses are fascinating! What’s interesting to know is that Icelandic horses are one of the most purely bred horses in the world. To ensure this is maintained, Icelandic law prevents horses from being imported, and exported animals aren’t allowed back in!
… but it’s so close to the Arctic Circle!
Iceland’s close proximity to the Arctic Circle means that there’s a stark difference to the daylight hours depending on what time of year you choose to visit. In winter the days are short and the nights are very dark, whilst in spring/summer you’ll be lucky to get any darkness at all. You can see this as a blessing or a curse; whilst you’ll have more hours in the day to explore, you might struggle to sleep at the end of it!
So, does Iceland live up to its hype?
Of course it does! There’s a reason for the hype, and it’s that Iceland is incredible!
Who cares if its cold? Didn’t you come to see glaciers and iceberg lagoons?! What if it’s expensive? You can work out how to budget more effectively! And if you can’t sleep at night because the sun is too bright… well what do you think sleep masks were invented for?
My suggestion: get off the beaten track
Despite Iceland’s popularity, it’s not uncommon to be heading along the ring road and not see another car for quite some time! This is because most of Iceland’s tourism lies in just a small area of the country. Although many tourists don’t travel beyond Reykjavik and the Golden Circle route, Iceland’s true beauty lies in its snow-capped mountains and incredible fjords in the east, its impressive glaciers and rugged coastlines in the south and in the isolated, unspoiled beauty of the north and westfjords.
What are you waiting for? Get in your hire car and get exploring!
Related Post: The Ultimate Iceland Road Trip Guide
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