This past fall, my partner Nick and I were lucky enough to spend a few days on a trip to Iceland and I can honestly say it’s a country that should be at the top of everyone’s travel lists. With affordable plane tickets (sometimes less than $200!) courtesy of budget airlines like WOW Air, a trip to Iceland is even possible on a student’s limited budget. So for those of us looking for a vacation that’s a little more adventurous than the average beach resort, a visit to Iceland may be just the trip to book this summer. It’s hard to choose just five, but read on to see my reasons why Iceland should be your next vacation.
Quick Travel Time
Our trip to Iceland was put together on pretty short notice, so one of the reasons I chose this destination was the short travel time from Toronto. In just under 5 hours we had landed in Reykjavik, with all the sights and sounds that Iceland had to offer. It was a great way to get in a little bit of European flair on vacation after just a few hours.
The Blue Lagoon
What would any trip to Iceland be without a stop at the world-famous Blue Lagoon? This actually happened to be our very first taste of Iceland, since Nick and I headed straight there to relax after our flight landed. We even got there in time to watch the sun rising over the turquoise-blue waters of the Lagoon – an unforgettable experience that I would definitely recommend. Make sure to book your spots in advance and choose between the different packages and price levels to suit your pampering experience.
The Great Outdoors
Iceland has easily some of the most recognizable natural landscapes, especially since it’s risen to fame as the shooting location for HBO’s hit series Game of Thrones. What watching the show didn’t prepare me for though, was the way that the terrain still looked so rugged and untouched by humans. The best way to experience this firsthand is to spend some time outdoors in one of Iceland’s many natural parks – either book a guided tour, or rent a car and drive yourself out.
City Life and Country Life
Although stunning glaciers and vast open fields might come to mind when you think of Iceland, there’s also some pretty impressive urban adventures to experience as well. With its colourful architecture and Scandinavian design, Reykjavik’s streets are an Instagram photo-op just waiting to happen. You’ll find tons of adorable coffee shops (the Icelandic really enjoy their caffeine fix!), nightlife, and cultural activities to choose from on your trip.
Getting Off the Beaten Track
Finally, one of the things that I’m happiest to say I knocked off my bucket list is that I was able to see the Northern Lights in person. Icelandic weather is pretty finicky, and can change drastically from one minute to the next, so it did take a bit of luck to pull this off. There are apps and websites that can help track the best areas of the country to see the Lights, but the best time of the year to see them is between October and March. Instead of booking a tour group, I’d highly recommend setting up your GPS and driving through the countryside to find your own little spot to watch the lights.
Overall we had a great time in the short few days that we spent in Iceland, and I would certainly recommend it to anyone looking for a unique trip!
All photos courtesy of Kate Mendonca & Nick Pyren