MATicelandfeature

Why everyone is obsessed with Iceland right now

25 October 2017

This tiny island nation is like many of its Scandinavian neighbours. The streets of its capital Reykjavik are lined with uniform, yet unique rows of pretty pastel coloured houses, its waterfront is flanked by ice breakers and fishing vessels, those too licked with bright coloured paint. The locals are beautiful in the way Scandinavians only are, and impeccably polite; speaking better english than many Brits, and carrying a friendly, yet reserved attitude you can only describe as coolly nonchalant.

Yet all of that aside, once you leave the lights of civilisation behind, you’re somewhere else altogether. You’re somewhere that’s like nowhere else on earth; and that’s why everyone wants to travel to Iceland right now.

You don’t want to miss out, so why not book an Intrepid Iceland adventure tour and see for yourself what the hype is all about?

The landscape is insane

I’m not sure it’s possible to overstate how tremendous the Icelandic landscape is. One moment you’re cruising through flat fertile farmland with the occasional plume of steam from a geothermal vent. The next the road slices right through the middle of one of the world’s biggest lava flows in recorded history. You can pull right up to waterfalls that easily fall over 100 metres off the side of a glacier. You can walk along a beach that’s made of black volcanic sand and peppered with massive icebergs. A road winding through rolling hills ends abruptly at a 2 million year old canyon that looks more fairy tale than real life. You can walk on top, and inside of, the largest glacier in Europe, its ice mass over a kilometre thick at its deepest. And best yet, you can do all of this in just a few days.

It’s friendly and safe

The uber cool aforementioned locals are a big drawcard to what makes Iceland so easy to travel around. Their impeccable english, patience with tourists and unbridled knowledge means you’ll always find someone to help point you in the right direction, whether that’s to a somewhat obscure thermal pool, or the fridge that says milk (mjolk). Iceland is also incredibly safe. In fact the country has a crime rate that’s lower than most developed countries, and a standard of living and education that’s higher.

It’s super easy to get around

Iceland really knows how to cater to the traveller. The country has set itself up so you’ll have absolutely no problem finding a pre-organised tour with a company like Intrepid or a number of guided day tours from Reykjavik.

If you decide to drive, there’s one distinct advantage to the volcanic cross alpine landscape of Iceland: the lack of trees. You’ll rarely find yourself unable to see for at least a few hundred metres in any direction. Sure the roads are narrow, winding and they drive on the opposite side to Australia, but it’s nothing like navigating the narrow, winding, hedge-flanked country lanes of France or the UK. Most of the things you’ll want to see are in the south, also known as the Golden Circle, so you’ll rarely drive for more than a couple of hours before reaching the next stop, sometimes as little as ten minutes.

The northern lights

Iceland is undeniably one of the best places in the world to see the northern lights. Its vast landscapes and location just below the arctic circle mean travellers flock here to see the dancing green lights in the night sky year after year. You can see the lights from September through to April, as in order to see them you need dark night skies (which makes the northern summer a write off). Just because it’s dark however, doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to see them. A cloudless night is obviously important, as is a high level of solar activity. These things usually can’t be predicted until a few days in advance, and can change without warning, so book your ticket, then count all of your lucky stars madame aurora says hello while you’re in town.

 

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Vicki Fletcher

An Australian travel writer and photographer, Vicki loves road trips down unknown tracks, following locals to the best food in town and spending long afternoons people watching in city squares. She's obsessed with colours, stops to admire flowers and dreams of one day restoring a chateau in France. Her top travel tip: always look up. Follow Vicki on Instagram at @vickijanefletcher