Iceland: Europe’s Splendid Dichotomy.
Iceland: 63 percent tundra, 14 percent glaciers, 100 percent gorgeous.
Lest you think you’re heading to a backwater, consider, please, that this island nation ranks first in the world for median wealth and second for the strength of its democracy. It boasts the world’s first political party formed and led entirely by women. And renewable sources provide all of Iceland’s electricity.
If you’re flying to Iceland, Reykjavik, the capital, is your first stop. But you simply must get out beyond the city limits. And don’t forget to pack your best camera.
Allow R. Crusoe & Son to create a journey to Iceland that’s custom-made just for you. To do this, check out our quick summary of highlights around the country. See what interests you, then contact us, and let’s start planning.
R. Crusoe & Son creates an Iceland journey specifically for you and yours. How long should you set aside for your visit? That depends on how many you are and what exactly you would like to see and do.
Your R. Crusoe travel specialist creates a route just for you that maximizes your exposure to the incredible natural and cultural treasures of Iceland.
Destinations We Recommend.
Allow R. Crusoe to create your own personal Icelandic adventure. Consider the following possible destinations, then give us a call, and let's talk Iceland.
Reykjavik. The capital and largest city of Iceland. Located in the southwest on Faxa Bay, this is the world’s northernmost capital of a sovereign state. You’ve touched down in the nation’s cultural, economic, and political hub.
While you’re in town, be sure to visit the geothermal Blue Lagoon. Take a soak, if you’d like. Naturally superheated water is vented from the ground near a lava flow and is used to generate electricity. The resultant steam and hot water provide heat for a municipal hot-water system. The water is then fed into the lagoon of a spa for recreational and medicinal users to soak in. The water, which maintains a constant temperature of 102 degrees, and the volcanic mud are known for their beneficial properties.
Hallgrimskirkja Church is among Reykjavik’s main landmarks. Designed by former state architect Gudjon Samuelson, it is meant to resemble volcanic rock formations. Its tower can be seen from almost everywhere in the city.
The fantastic National Museum gives you a peek into Iceland’s cultural heritage from the time of its pioneering settlement in A.D. 874 to the present.
Reykjavik 871 +/-2 displays the ruins of a Viking-era longhouse circa A.D. 930. It was unearthed in the city center in 2001.
Are you a foodie? If so, consider taking a local gastronomic tour. Hear stories of the city while tasting your way through popular and beloved Icelandic restaurants and bars. According to Vogue magazine (2017), “Chefs are taking the fresh caught seafood, the free-roaming lamb, and the abundance of berries growing all over the island and creating fare that rivals that of Copenhagen, Stockholm, and even New York City. Foodies are finding that Reykjavik... is full of restaurants serving traditional ingredients in new ways.”
Other possible stops in Reykjavik include the Parliament Building, the Viking Maritime Museum, and the Reykjavik Municipal (Open Air) Museum. You can also visit Hofdi House, in which Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev met in 1986 to negotiate the Iceland Summit. Though you cannot enter, you can see this historic site from the outside.
Thrihnukagigur. A volcano located about a 35-minute drive from Reykjavik. Take a 50-minute hike to reach the crater; though not an uphill hike, the surface is somewhat uneven. Then descend via open cable lift about 400 feet to the bottom of the crater. It’s an experience you really shouldn’t miss.
Deildartunguhver. Europe’s most powerful natural hot spring. The water is used for central heating in the towns of Borgarnes and Akranes, the latter of which requires a 40-mile pipeline. Yet at the end of the water’s trip, it remains at about 80 degrees.
Barnafoss. Sadly, the cascade’s name, which translates to Children’s Falls, comes from the disappearance of two local children who are presumed to have fallen from a rock arch that once spanned the waterfall. It is said that the mother destroyed the arch to make sure no other children tried to cross in a similar manner.
Hraunfoss. These so-called lava falls feature an unusual phenomenon: clear, cold springwater seeps through a vast lava field, creating tiny waterfalls and rapids that eventually empty into the Hvita River.
Borgarfjorour. Here you can enter the mightiest of Iceland’s ice caves. You see amazing colors and lava formations that lurk deep below the ground. Prior to entering, drive on Iceland’s second-largest glacier, Langjokull. Here’s a chance to explore a glacier from both the inside and out.
Snaefellsnes Peninsula. One of the few regions of Iceland that has golden and pink beaches (most other beaches in Iceland are covered in black-lava sand). The other natural scenery here is stunning, filled with lava fields, gorges, and waterfalls. Lovely villages dot the landscape. At the peninsula’s western tip, you reach Snaefellsjokull National Park dominated by the dormant Saefellsjokull Volcano, which is topped by a glacier. Here’s a fun bit of trivia: Jules Verne wrote Journey to the Center of the Earth in 1864 about Saefellsjokull Volcano.
Visit the charming wooden church in Budir. It was built in the 19th century atop a lava field.
Arnarstapi, a small fishing village at the foot of Mount Stapafell, was once an important trading post. Today, the population has shrunk. You find interesting ravines and grottoes surrounding its natural harbor. Also of note is a large colony of arctic terns that share the area with kittiwakes, gulls, and fulmars.
Djupalonssandur, a sandy beach and bay, was once the site of a bustling fishing village, but today it is uninhabited. You can see four lifting stones here, formerly used by fishermen to test their strength and to qualify workers for jobs on local fishing boats.
Golden Circle. Come here to immerse yourself in both natural wonders and history in Iceland’s southern region. It boasts some magnificent sites, among them Gullfoss Waterfall, Geysir Geothermal Field, and Thingvellir National Park.
We suggest you begin with a drive through Thingvellir National Park, founded in 1930 to protect the remains of the world’s oldest existing parliamentary site (the Althing). The park was later expanded to protect natural phenomena in the surrounding area, including the Great Atlantic Rift. The clearly visible rift is slowly developing as Iceland’s two tectonic plates pull apart.
Visit the world-famous Geysir Geothermal Area, where hot springs are in abundance. The Stori Geysir (Icelandic for Great Gusher) here was legendary for its highly explosive eruptions of scalding water that reached an impressive height of 260 feet. In 1916, the geyser suddenly ceased erupting. It briefly surged back into life in 1935, but by 1950, its activity again waned, and it became fully dormant not long after.
Nearby Strokkur Geysir is a highly active hot spring that erupts every four to 10 minutes, shooting boiling water 100 feet into the air.
Gullfoss Waterfall, the queen of Iceland’s cascades, is also Europe’s most powerful. Its glacial cascade drops 105 feet into a narrow canyon, which is 230 feet deep and 1.5 miles long.
Jump onto a snowmobile to zip along the Icelandic highlands on Langjokull Glacier. Iceland’s second-largest glacier, has several enormous ice-filled volcanic craters. On your ride, you view not only Langjokull, but also the steep Eiríksjokull Glacier, the domed Hofsjokull Glacier, and the Kerlingafjoll Mountains.
South Coast. Iceland’s stunning south coast is home to Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss. Seljalandsfoss is a unique waterfall on the Seljalandsa River, with a footpath that leads you behind its thin cascade. Down the road, Skogafoss, one of Iceland’s biggest and most beautiful waterfalls, produces at least one rainbow any time the sun is out. Get close to the falls on a steep staircase that climbs alongside it, or walk to the foot of the falls themselves. Local legend says that a settler hid a chest of gold behind the waterfall.
Skogar Regional Museum opened in 1949 and originates from a personal collection of artifacts. The eclectic pieces—at present about 15,000—are housed in three buildings. Come here to experience Icelandic architectural heritage, among them a church, a schoolhouse, and a turf-roofed house.
The black-pebble beach of Reynisfjara is certainly worth a visit. A remarkable cliff made of basalt columns resembles a rocky step pyramid. Within the sea itself, basalt sea stacks attract large populations of local birds, including puffins, fulmars, and guillemots.
At the LAVA Iceland Volcano and Earthquake Center, learn about the epic forces of nature that created Iceland 20 million years ago. The center features interactive exhibits exploring the island’s particular volcanic systems.
Thorsmork. Nestled between three glaciers is Thorsmork, the Valley of Thor. Welcome to one of the country’s most popular hiking destinations and a favorite location for photographers and nature lovers alike. Here, the Eyjafjallajokull Glacier volcano erupted in 2010 and caused widespread disruption to Europe’s air traffic. The valley itself encompasses a nature reserve full of streams, glacial rivers, and green expanses, and it is considered one of the pearls of Iceland’s phenomenal scenery.
Solheimajokull Glacier. Come here for an easy-to-moderate walk that allows you to explore glacial ice sculptures, water cauldrons, ridges, and crevasses.
Reykjanes Peninsula. One of Earth’s great geological wonders. Out at sea, the jagged lines of the Reykjanes Ridge, a major fault line, disappears abruptly beneath the waves past the flat-topped island of Eldey. Ashore, on the valley floor, the tectonic plates of Eurasia and North America collide. Here, the Old World meets the New, and you can quite literally straddle the two continents.
Decide which Iceland destinations you simply cannot miss, then give R. Crusoe & Son a shout. Have other spots in Iceland in mind? Let us know, and we can incorporate them into your journey.
Estimated price per person (sharing room) per day from $1,500, though prices vary greatly. Pricing depends on the properties chosen, the season in which you travel, and the number of days you want to spend in Iceland.
For more information, to book, or to speak to an R. Crusoe & Son tour specialist, please call us at 800-585-8555.
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