Iceland – that island between Europe and North America in the North has increasingly become one of the hottest destinations to travel to. A country where everyone speaks at least two languages including English, one of the safest places in the world and of course, its endless amounts of vast beautiful natural landscapes has a lot more to offer than you might think. I know….a place so North on the map would not necessarily be on the top of the list of most Canadians/Northern Americans, but this little island between Europe and America is more than just a layover stop. Here are my top reasons to visit the capital, Reykjavik, and its surroundings:
24/7 Sunlight – yes, that is correct; in the months of June/July/August – this beautiful place has no darkness. You can wake up and go to bed at the time you want, and it barely affects your schedule of sightseeing, activities, and road tripping. Driving back at 10 pm on a strange road in the country – no problem. Did you ever think you could be whale watching at midnight? We did, we even had a beer while listening to some live music on board the ship while we marveled at the dolphins and puffins around us. The constant sunlight is an exceptional experience.
Art and culture – for such a small city (Reykjavik has a population of 200K) this town has so much culture and art to explore and visit. We were captivated by the Art Museum, the quality of the art galleries and Icelandic artists. You will also notice that street art is everywhere. For performing arts, the Harpa, a recently built concert hall is itself one of the most beautiful buildings I have stepped foot in. It hosts daily concerts and performances which are sure to delight a broad range of spectators.
Food – I did not think to come to Iceland was going to be a food oriented journey, but I was wrong. The freshness and quality cooking of the fish, seafood, and lamb we were served were absolutely scrumptious. I am still thinking of the arctic char we had at Forretta Barin in the old harbor of Reykjavik, savoring a delicious beef burger directly from the farm on a road trip and not to mention the delicious Danish pastries they served at Sandholt in the center of town. The Viking ancestry and their closeness to their Scandinavian roots are evident – any foodie would appreciate.
Other travelers – the secret of Iceland’s greatness is out! One of the best parts of traveling, in general, can be the people you meet. Iceland does not disappoint. The endless amount of quality travelers from around the world (mostly America and Europe) was memorable in itself. By the end of a dinner one night, we had a couple of other travelers and the witty local waiter sitting with us having a drink. This was not even surprising by the end of our trip. Everyone seems to be ready to chat – this experience in itself was memorable and inspiring on many levels.
Of course, the famous Blue lagoon is an absolute must, the Golden Circle is as well, but to me; Iceland was more than that. It was the experience of being somewhere remote and unique where the people loved their land and travelers genuinely seemed to appreciate what it had to offer. It was a beautiful and unique place that I would strongly recommend and all types of travelers.