We have already covered why Iceland should be your first destination when the coronavirus settles however, we haven’t really gotten into what it is that you need to see once you are here.
The land of ice and fire did not get its nickname for being boring or unexciting. Quite the opposite. The name sparked from the endless stunning attractions; The numerous glaciers and the volcanoes, the moss-covered lava fields, the untouched mountain slopes, the deep mysterious fjords, the moon-like terrain of the North, the mesmerizing waterfalls, the gushing geysers and all the idyllic natural contrasts that mother nature blessed Iceland with.
During the last decades travelers have flocked from all over the world to view this extraordinary island in the North and have truly and thoroughly enjoyed it. However, when visiting a popular place like Iceland, it usually means that you have to share it with other visitors.
Today, however, in the post-pandemic phase, this is not the case. Iceland, which has been the leading country in safely containing the virus, is opening back up on the 15th of June. And, what awaits those who visit is something much like Iceland 50 years ago. Iceland without other visitors. Iceland on your own.
Time and again, Iceland has been dubbed the safest country in the world. However, the title has earned a whole new meaning during the coronavirus outbreak.
Iceland, which has been known for gender equality, clean water, peaceful police and non-existent army is now the poster child for great governance and camaraderie in fighting the virus. Iceland started testing a month prior to the virus arriving in Iceland. And, moreover, those in charge placed great trust in medical science and began a large-scale testing as well as contact tracing through a custom app. The experts held a daily press conference where they communicated news and updates with great transparency. All of this led to Iceland, sooner than any other country, having the situation under control.
In an interview with CNN, Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrín Jakobssdóttir, talked about how efficiently Iceland had handled the pandemic and how the government is continuing to take steps to ensure that anyone on Iceland feels safe and protected, and not only the locals, but also those who are going to visit us soon as the government has decided to open up the country again. Iceland’s response to the exceptional virus was also recently covered in the New Yorker magazine.
From the 15th of June, Icelanders will be waiting for visitors with open arms and all the attractions and sites will never have been in better shape. Great measures are in place to make sure the adventure of visiting Iceland is as smooth and ‘natural’ for you as possible and we are all working together to ensure the best experience.
As mentioned above, Iceland has been tremendously busy for about 15 years now. However today, with the current travel situation some of the spots that have had thousands of visitors a day now see only a couple locals and maybe a few sheep. So, this is your chance, right now, to visit Iceland. With all the excellent infrastructure, restaurants and attractions that it offers as a tourist destination but also the completely empty nature spots and enjoy it all on your own.
Everywhere you visit there is an opportunity to have a memorable adventure. If you’re an active hiker, a yogi, a foodie, an adrenaline junky or simply looking for a place to relax a bit, Iceland somehow has something for everyone.
Top Things to Do in Iceland Before They Become Popular Again
Oh the options.
Here are just some of the places, sight and things to enjoy whilst Iceland has more sheep than people. Here we cover:
- The Capital Reykjavík
- Exploring the Remote Westfjords
- The Arctic Coast Way
- The Ring Road like never before
- The Eastfjords
The Capital, Reykjavík
It might seem like an obvious mention but actually many visitors miss out on Reykjavík as they rush out to the countryside to see what the fuss is all about. Don’t get me wrong. I truly understand doing so. This is usually why you are visiting Iceland, to see the waterfalls, geysers, volcanoes and glaciers and they are not found within the capital. However, the capital is a lovely, quirky, grows-on-you-place that makes you feel at home and inspired at the same time.
It has incredibly specific places like the phallic museum and the famous sourdough bakeries but also pubs, top-quality restaurants, galleries, shops, and world-class museums. Reykjavík is homey but metropolitan with its perfect blend of colorful corrugated iron and timber houses set against art deco-style architectural stunners.
Explore the remote Westfjords
The Westfjords have always been the most remote part of Iceland that is inhabited. It is outside the classic Ring Road circle route and in winter it can be troublesome to reach. However, the summers in the Westfjords are nothing short of amazing. Kayaking in the tranquil waters in the deep fjords, birdwatching at Látrabjarg, tasting delicious fresh fish, hiking in the scenic Hornstrandir or bathing in natural hot springs. This place is magic!
My top three favorite things to do in the Westfjords is taking a small road trip with well-selected friends, having the local dish plokkfiskur at Einarshús in Bolungarvík, visiting the friendly Arctic Foxes in Sudavik and bathing in the local swimming pools in all the charming little fishing villages all around the fjords.
The Arctic Coast Way
Many like to visit Iceland because of its charm as an island in the North-Atlantic. The Northern Lights, the amazing mountain ranges, the snow, the terrain and wildlife. But how about taking this northern dream even further? By visiting the Northern part of Iceland you are doubling up on the nordic appeal and the sights and attractions that come with are absolutely stellar.
Think lava rock parks, geothermal pools, whale watching, historical Viking sites, little colorful fishing towns, vast open roads and views that will truly take your breath away. The route around North Iceland, known as the Arctic Coast Way, has 21 villages, at least 18 geothermal pools AND was placed on Lonely Planet’s list in 2019 of top 10 places to visit in Europe. If those three reasons don’t convince you to visit, I don’t know what will.
The Ring Road like never before
The Ring Road, or road number 1, takes you on a circular route around the whole island. It is usually a busy route but now, as everywhere else, it seems almost deserted.
This is the time to take the open road and truly enjoy the perks of slower travel. Take your time, dig deep into the best each region has to offer. The usually crowded South coast now feels like stepping into a scene from one of those Viking shows. It is bare and absolutely glorious. Imagine having some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world, Seljalandsfoss (the one you can walk behind), Skógafoss, Goðafoss, Hengifoss, Dettifoss and all the rest all to yourself. Now imagine having the whole island!
This truly is a once in a lifetime opportunity to get to know Iceland in the form it was before it was ‘discovered’ by tourists however also with the added bonus of the modern cuisine spins, technological advancements, great cellular connection, better infrastructure and safety measures par excellence. You get the best of everything!
The Eastern parts of Iceland are mostly known for their wild reindeer population, the only ‘forest’ in Iceland, the delightful little artsy town Seyðisfjörður, Petra’s stone museum and, recently, its lesser-known but stunningly beautiful waterfalls.
If you are driving the Ring Road in Iceland you’ll enjoy the Eastfjords, but, I do recommend that you take your time with them and make a good stop at these small villages. There is always something to see. See our guide to East Iceland for further information.
I hope this little post about what to enjoy first when you can visit us again is helpful. We can’t wait the 15th of June. Adventures await!