Iceland is an island country with fascinating extremes. Active volcanoes produce geothermal heat while frozen glaciers flow nearby. Summers feature near endless days and winters endless nights. And with such a low population, much of the nation consists of pristine wilderness areas filled with breathtaking waterfalls and other beautiful natural attractions.
You can enjoy lots of unique activities in Iceland without spending a lot of money. Here are just 5.
#1. Go Whale Watching
During the summer months, thousands of whales migrate to the waters around Iceland. The Mid-Atlantic Ridge (a row of volcanoes) runs through the center of Iceland and into the sea to the north and south. Underwater volcanoes leak heat into the water resulting in perfect conditions for zooplankton and more fish than you might otherwise find at this latitude. The abundant marine food stocks attract a wide variety of whale species, most notably humpback whales.
The line of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge runs through Skjalfandi Bay on the northern coast near the town of Húsavík. A large variety of whales swim in the waters near Husavik, and sometimes it’s possible to spot them from the shore. The ridge also runs close to the Westfjords, and whales are known to swim in and out of the fjords where they can be spotted from the shore. So, get out your binoculars and see what you can see for free.
The best way to get up close and personal with the world’s largest mammals is to join an affordable whale watching cruise. You can join a cruise from Reykjavik all year round or from Akureyri and Húsavík in summer. Some of the cruises also sail close to islands known for their fascinating puffin colonies.
#2. See the Northern Lights
Winter is the best time of year to witness the mystical beauty of the Aurora Borealis, and there is no better place to see the Northern Lights than Iceland. Because of Iceland’s low population density, light pollution is less of a problem than in other areas near the Arctic Circle. Also, because it is an island in the North Atlantic, it’s warmer than other continental areas in the same latitude.
When you’re camping in a camper van, you’re free to drive out to remote locations to ensure the light pollution is minimal and to escape cloud cover. This gives you a wonderful opportunity to chase the Northern Lights and take amazing photographs that will stun your Instagram followers. Or you could simply select a place you think is scenic and remote then camp out to await nature’s greatest light show. The best thing is that Mother Nature doesn’t charge for admission.
If you want to learn more about the Aurora Borealis and get help from locals to find the best viewing spots, you can always join an inexpensive Northern Lights Tour. Do your research and make sure that you’re getting value for money. The better tour operators provide specialist photography equipment and offer professional advice so that you can take awesome photographs.
#3. Explore Arctic Landscapes
Fourteen percent of Iceland is covered by Vatnajökull National Park, which contains Europe’s biggest glacier outside the Arctic. The park’s Asbyrgi Campground near the Gljufrastofa Visitor Centre welcomes campervans. This gives you the opportunity to hike across arctic landscapes and view active volcanoes. This is the true heart of the Land of Fire and Ice!
You may also want to drive down to Jökulsarlon Glacial Lake in the south. This glacial lagoon is filled with icebergs of all sizes that have broken away from the end of a glacier. Some of the icebergs are as much as 100 feet tall. Jökulsarlon Lake has appeared in many blockbuster films, such as Die Another Day and Batman Begins.
#4. Admire Powerful Geysers and Stunning Waterfalls
It only costs you what you pay in gas to explore Iceland’s beautiful natural scenery. Take your camera and relax as you drive around the wild volcanic and post-glacial landscape.
One of the most fascinating geothermal phenomena you can see in Iceland is a geyser. In the Haukadalur Valley in the southwest, you can visit 2 of the world’s most famous geysers. The word “geyser” originally comes from Geysir, which was the first geyser recorded in a printed book and still sprays water up to 230 feet into the air. However, eruptions are infrequent. A mere 160 feet south of Geysir is Strokkur Geyser. This only throws water 66 feet but is more popular with tourists because it erupts faithfully every 6 to 10 minutes.
Iceland boasts a fine selection of beautiful waterfalls. Skogafoss Waterfall is one of the most popular attractions in Iceland. It falls 200 feet over a cliff that used to stand on the seashore but is now 3 miles inland. The spray from the plunging water creates a constant single or double rainbow, which makes this a great place for romantic photographs. Nearby Seljalandsfoss Waterfall features a footpath that allows hikers to walk inside the watery curtain and to enter a hidden cave.
#5. Make use of Geothermal Energy
The geothermal energy in Iceland doesn’t only power geysers. The Svartsengi Geothermal Power Plant provides both hot water and electricity. And, as a byproduct, provides hot, mineral-rich water to the famous Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa. Visitors flock here to bathe in the milky blue pools.
If you’re passing Laugharvatn, check out the locally produced hyerabrauo from the Geothermal Bakery. This is a traditional variety of rye bread baked using geothermal heat inside a pot buried in the ground beside hot springs.
Do your Research then Go!
As you can see, there are many interesting activities to do in Iceland without breaking the bank. Take your time to research all the exciting activities. You’ll probably want to visit Reykjavik, so why not enjoy a walking tour run by iheartreykjavik. You can also ask them for advice about all the fun or inexpensive things you can do in Iceland.