5 Beautiful Reasons to Visit Iceland

Everyone wants to visit Iceland these days. Once a sleepy place, Iceland has recently become a hot spot for Americans traveling overseas. What’s the deal? Well, it turns out Iceland is a lot more than a small island in a cold sea. It’s a place of otherworldly beauty, with the kind of scenery you just assume is Photoshopped when you see it on Instagram. But Iceland doesn’t need to be ‘shopped to stop you from scrolling. Iceland really looks that amazing.

Why is Iceland’s landscape so unique? For the most part, the answer is volcanoes, both ancient and current. The nation straddles two tectonic plates — the North American plate and the Eurasian plate, and so its hot-blooded terrain is powered by primal forces deep under this island’s surface.

We have five natural wonders in Iceland you’ve just got to see for yourself — four come from the Earth, and one comes from the skies above. Take a look at these five beautiful reasons to visit Iceland:

Strokkur Geyser is one of Iceland's natural wonders

Ready, set, geyser! The Strokkur Geyser bubbles to life every five to ten minutes.

1. Geysers: It’s a tranquil pool of water, maybe surrounded by rocks stained brilliant colors. Then this tranquil pool of water fills with bubbles which erupt, shooting a towering column of steaming water high into the air with a tremendous roar. Oh, and it happens every five minutes or so — they’re one of nature’s most persistently thrilling attractions. Iceland might have some of the best geysers in the world — they even got to name the things. The Geysir region (catch the name?) is famous for its geysers. One of the most famous, Strokkur, has been putting on regular performances, with some interruptions from earthquakes, since 1294!

Skogafoss, one of Iceland's great waterfalls, thunders to its pool.

Skogafoss, one of Iceland’s great waterfalls, thunders to its pool.

2. Waterfalls: With glaciers, Atlantic storms, and plenty of mountains, Iceland is blessed with countless waterfalls. Big, small and in between, if you love to watch water rushing over a precipice (and who doesn’t?) Iceland is your happy place. Legends abound at these beautiful places: Skogafoss waterfall’s many legends include a treasure chest hidden beneath the fall by a Viking magician.

The warm waters of the Blue Lagoon are one of Iceland's must-see attractions.

The warm waters of the Blue Lagoon are one of Iceland’s must-see attractions.

3. The Blue Lagoon: It’s not the only geothermal pool in Iceland, but it’s the biggest and most photographed by miles. Practically the national symbol of Iceland (if you go by airline ads), the Blue Lagoon, located outside of Reykjavik, is a mineral-rich pool with warm, milky-blue water. Swimming through the billows of steam as the water, as warm as 102 degrees Fahrenheit, reacts to the chilly air is a must-do experience while in Iceland.

Iceland's beautiful volcanoes often define the landscape.

The volcanoes of Iceland come in many shapes and sizes, and define the landscape in many places.

4. Volcanoes: Iceland has well over one hundred volcanoes, and about thirty of them are active right now. Whether they’re dormant or active, the volcanoes provide spectacular scenery. Whether you’re taking a drive through the South Shore, with active volcanoes like Hekla and Eyjafjallajökull (the one that caused all those canceled flights back in 2010), or taking a tour inside (yes, inside!) a magma chamber of dormant Thrihnukagigur volcano, these wonders of nature give Iceland its wild, untameable terrain and geothermal phenomena.

Dress warm! The best nights for the aurora are often the coldest.

Dress warm! The best nights for the aurora are often the coldest.

5. Aurora Borealis: Because of course Iceland, so busy and amazing under your feet, also has wonders in the sky! The Northern Lights need dark skies, unpolluted by light from cities, and thanks to Iceland’s vast wild spaces, they find a perfect canvas here. Chase the aurora on a Northern Lights tour between September and April, when spotting is at its best. Of course, aurora sightings often occur on the nights you’d rather be in your bed — the coldest nights are generally the clearest!

Stunning terrain and sparkling skies are perfect reasons to put this little island on your bucket list. Of course, there are plenty more: wonderful people, fascinating and ancient culture, beautiful cities and charming villages. Iceland is, quite simply, one of the world’s most unique destinations. Don’t miss it!

Virgin Vacations’ Iceland packages include escorted tours and independent adventure vacations. You can join a Northern Lights Pursuit, add a coastal cruise, or see more of Scandinavia with tours taking in Norway. There’s even the Natural Force & Beauty tour, with an itinerary specifically designed to showcase the country’s natural wonders, with everything from mysterious blue ice caves to the sturdy and adorable Icelandic horse.

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