More and more travelers choose to visit Iceland each year. But they’re not just coming for the majestic scenery. There are many reasons to go to Iceland. So, “what’s all the fuss about?”, you may ask.
In this article, we answer the question “why is everyone traveling to Iceland?” and dive into the top reasons for you to visit Iceland too!
When you’re visiting Iceland in the height of summer, you definitely cannot complain that there are “not enough hours in a day”. In fact, in mid-summer you can expect 22+ hours of daylight each day, meaning that the sun actually never quite sets during this time.
Experiencing what is known as a Midnight Sun, is one of the biggest reasons why people travel to Iceland during summer. That 9-hour hike suddenly becomes possible, and you can cram in a LOT into an Iceland summer itinerary. But just be aware; don’t take on too much, since many visitors go a bit overboard. They end up suffering from burnout by their third day on holiday (yes, the irony isn’t lost on us).
Many also struggle with their sleeping patterns, as you never quite shut down without the cue of the darkness. That’s why it’s highly recommended to bring along a sleeping mask and set yourself a bedtime when traveling to the island in summertime.
This is something you definitely cannot compare to the heated pool at a resort or the Jacuzzi back home. The island boasts many natural hot springs across the island. This is because of volcanic activity heating up the underground water supply.
You can still find some of these natural hot springs in their natural (pun intended) states in “the wild”. Yet, there are a few that have been turned into what we call geothermal pools. This is not because of capitalist greed, but the public’s safety. Some of these natural hot springs in Iceland are only found underground. When they are so close to the underground, they reach absolutely staggering temperatures! We’re talking Kentucky Fried Amy or Joe if you catch our drift.
So, they use cold water from lakes, seawater, etc. to cool the hot spring water down to make it the perfect swimming temperature in the geothermal pool. As you might’ve guessed, geothermal pools often have an entry fee (there are operations and maintenance expenses). Yet, those still in their original surroundings and that are open to the public are free of charge.
One of the biggest reasons why people go to Iceland is because it’s such a safe place to visit. In a world where solo travel and the Digital Nomad lifestyle are on the rise, safety has become the top priority of many travelers.
That’s why it brings such peace of mind that Iceland has been named the safest country in the world! It was named by the Institute for Economics and Peace in their annual Global Peace Index - again. Yes, again. Iceland has taken that title for the 12th year in a row now. We’re not proclaiming that the island is completely crime free. But with only 1–2 people out of 100 000 being impacted by mostly petty crimes – those are odds you can work with.
That’s also why it’s not strange to see visitors trying to save a buck and hitchhike next to the road. There is nothing to be scared of. Whether it’s just because of the local culture and the mere nature of the Icelanders, or the fact that it’s a tiny island (not many places to hide, are there?) remains to be discovered. But, for now, just enjoy the freedom and not having to constantly be on your guard.
The Northern Lights (or Aurora Borealis) are definitely one of the top reasons to visit Iceland. Experiencing this natural wonder is just mesmerizing. Watching its streaks of bright neon colors dancing across the Icelandic sky is impressive. Basically, something that you can’t describe to someone who hasn’t seen it for themselves.
But with the Northern Lights, it’s not so much an issue of why you should visit Iceland, but rather when you should visit. That’s because you need darkness to see lights, right? So, having 22+ hours of daylight will not be very conducive to this natural phenomenon.
If the Northern Lights are one of your biggest reasons to travel to Iceland, we suggest that you visit the island between September and March. You'll be guaranteed at least one sighting during the winter months of December and January.
Whether you’re flying from New York or London, flight tickets to Iceland are more than affordable, with prices starting from just $100! As with any other airline, these prices will obviously be impacted by seasons. Still, in comparison with some other popular holiday destinations, Iceland will always come out on top as one of the most affordable.
What is more, these tickets are not just cheaper because you need to sit at an overlay airport for 12 hours – many of these are for DIRECT flights!
Whether you’re planning a trip during the winter or summer, there are plenty of unique and exciting experiences waiting for you on the island. Many of those will definitely get the blood pumping! From hiking glaciers to summiting mountains featured in Game of Thrones.
As well as snorkeling between two continents and exploring ice caves. These incredible once-in-a-lifetime experiences are why Iceland is such a popular tourist destination. The island also caters to a wide variety of ages and skill levels. So, don’t think that you are immediately discounted from adventure if you feel you’re “too young” or “too old”, or that you’ve never kayaked a day in your life.
Iceland claims the top spot as one of the happiest nations in the world! Both, according to The World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report. It should come as no surprise that it’s also been voted the most welcoming country in the world.
A local always has a friendly smile, some helpful tips, or a local tale or two to share with visitors to the island. Ask them about the elves in your local pub and you’ll start a debate as well as get entertained with a myriad of “true” stories.
Who needs to be sipping Pina Coladas on a white sand beach somewhere in the Caribbean when you can be taking a stroll on a black sand beach with huge icebergs bobbing in the ocean? The black sand beaches in Iceland are yet another result of volcanic activity here in the Land of Fire and Ice.
Lava flows over the cliffs and hardens in the cold air to form basalt rock cliffs. It can also flow straight into the ocean, where it cools down to form a massive piece of basalt rock and other volcanic sediments. Add the Icelandic winds and the waves to the mix, leave for centuries, and you’ll get the black sand beaches we see today with what’s left after the erosion.
These black sand beaches are far more than just an incredibly dramatic look. The basalt cliffs also have a very interesting hexagonal shape that makes them almost appear to be gigantic church organs. These have served as inspiration for many an art piece and architectural marvel here on the island.
Another big reason why people visit Iceland is because of its wildlife. You catch a glimpse of interesting animals such as the Arctic Fox in places like the Westfjords. You can also get treated to special migratory whale sightings of species calling Iceland home from April to September.
And you can also spot the famous Puffins in Iceland when they come to breed on the island between May and August. If whale watching in Iceland is something you have on your Iceland bucket list, we recommend that you visit Husavik (the whale capital of Iceland). Or at least book a spot on a whale watching tour from the capital city’s harbor (another one of the reasons why you should visit Reykjavik in Iceland).
There are also quite a few places around the island where Puffin colonies are well-known. You can choose whether you’d like to DIY your own Puffin experience. For example, hiking at the Latrabjarg Cliffs or whether you’d also prefer booking a spot on a guided tour.
Did you know that the island boasts its own breed of horse called the Icelandic Horse? These horses are famous among horse enthusiasts for their short, stubby physique. They remind of a pony rather than a full-grown horse.
They also sport incredibly long, almost fluffy-looking pelts during the winter months. And luckily for visitors, they have a wonderful friendly nature. These guys can also perform a gait that no other horses can do called the tölt during which the horse always has at least one hoof on the ground at all times.
The tölt is said to be such a smooth ride that it has inspired a fun game on the island called the beer tölt. In this game, a rider is given a pint of beer and challenged to complete a tölt without spilling a drop.
The Icelandic Horses can be found all over Iceland and whether you spot them running over the hills, book a spot on a horse riding tour or visit one of the local breeding farms – it’s well worth seeing these beauties up close.
As you can see, the island is filled with natural wonders, unique experiences, and fun and exciting activities. So, it’s no surprise why Iceland is such a popular tourist destination. And the question of “why visit Iceland?” should rather be “why not?”
But this is something you’ll need to experience for yourself. The best way of exploring the island is via road trip. So rent a car in Reykjavik and cruise around this island, where you’ll be welcomed with open arms by the friendliest nation on the planet (officially!)