Summer vacation is just around the corner and people have been asking each other on their plans for the season. While everyone wants to freshen up in the beach by strolling in the fine sand and drinking their cold coconut juice, one can take their summer vacation up a notch by going to a foreign country like Iceland.
Iceland is considered as the second largest island in Europe next to Great Britain. It has been known to be settled by the Norwegian Seafarers during the 9th century. Many of its locals get their sources of living in agriculture, fishing and tourism. Beautiful in its own, the island truly is one of the most sought after vacation spots during the summer season.
A Warm Welcome
If you’re looking for a place with rich cultural heritage, then Reykjavik downtown is just right for you. Home of Iceland’s most iconic landmarks and historical edifices, the area will surely provide all your vacation needs. Among the many attractions seen are the Grjótþorpid, Reykavik City Hall, Old Harbour, and the Laugavegur.
Popularly called as the Stone Village, Grjótþorpid is a residential area popular among travellers for its cheap rentals. One can learn more about Icelandic history in the Reykjavik City Hall which opened in 1992. The edifice holds different exhibits showcasing some of the country’s widely recognized masterpieces. The city hall also houses the offices of the Mayor and his executive officials.
Tourists will have fun in the Old Harbour. They can dine, shop, and explore different recreational activities in the area. There’s the weekend flea market called Kolaportið and the city’s oldest shopping district—Laugavegur. The latter is famous for its exclusive stores, bars, clubs, and restaurants.
Iceland has more iconic sights to share. The Hallgrímskirkja Cathedral, for instance, stands as the largest church in all of Iceland. It was named after Hallgrímur Pétursson, a known author and clergyman. The church was completed 41 years after its first construction in 1945. Architect Guðjón Samúelsson designed the church after Iceland’s lava flow. The edifice looms over 73 metres and has a viewing deck offering locals and tourists alike a view of the entire cityscape.
As you enter the church, you will be amazed the majestic pipe organ designed by Johannes Klais and the statue of Leif Eriksson made by Alexander Stirling Calder. The cathedral is Lutheran in nature and was consecrated in October 1986.
World-class entertainment takes place in the Harpa Concert Hall. The edifice is made of steel with colorful glass panels serving as the windows. It can welcome over 1,800 guests in the main hall. Currently, the concert hall serves as the headquarters of the country’s Symphony Orchestra and The Icelandic Opera.
A trip to Iceland can never be complete without visiting two of the country’s most spectacular waterfalls—the Goðafoss Waterfall situated in the Bárðardalur district and the Gullfoss Waterfall lying at the end of the Hvítá River.
Known as the waterfall of the Gods, Goðafoss tells its story from the time when Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði, a prominent lawspeaker, discarded his most precious Norse Gods statues into the falls after converting Iceland’s religion to Christianity. The said waterfall finds its base at the Skjálfandafljót River.
Visitors near Goðafoss can cross the Ring Road Bridge which connects the main city to other breathtaking places. There’s also the nearby Fosshóll Restaurant where sumptuous meals are served.
Another Icelandic gem is the Gullfoss Waterfall, also known as the Golden Falls. It is part of the Golden Circle together with Þingvellir National Park and the Haukadalur geysers. Unique in its own way, Gullfoss Waterfall flows over a canyon giving it the illusion of a river vanishing from view. Visitors of the area should never miss the chance to take a memento of Sigriður Tómasdóttir stone memorial established next to the falls. This commemorates the late hero’s act of preserving the natural beauty of the place.
Hit the Water
Visit the whales in their natural habitat at the Skjalfandi Bay located in Husavik, Iceland’s whale-watching capital. The area houses an educational center that lectures about whales and the town’s fishing industry.
Lundey Island is an ideal place for bird watching. The place is flocked every season with seabirds such as the puffins and other cliff-dwelling animals.
And while you’re at the area, take the time to stroll around other interesting museums. Husavik offers recreational activities like horseback riding, hiking and swimming.
Take a swim and get that tan in the Blue Lagoon situated in the Reykjanes Peninsula. It was formed in the 1976 when a pool-like area was created from the waste water of the geothermal power plant adjacent to it. The lagoon was later turned into a geothermal spa in 1992. The spa can help cure skin diseases and hold experimental facilities. The Blue Lagoon was also used as a set location for the movie Hostel: Part II and first leg pit stop for The Amazing Race 6.
An Icelandic Escapade
The thing we’ve all been waiting for has finally come. Summer yet again brings us its ray of sunshine filled with expectations that we hope to achieve before it ends. With that said, let us all journey to Iceland, a country where land and water sceneries coincide to give us that unforgettable vacation we’ve all been waiting for.