Mighty geysers, black sand beaches and icebergs resembling the mythical glass mountain are just some of the marvels accessible from Reykjavik. It’s a wonderland where the force of nature makes one stand in awe – Iceland must be seen at least once in a lifetime. It’s not that cold in winter there, by the way; some fearless souls even go diving.
Northern Lights on the Horizon
Northern lights are perhaps the most coveted part of winter. The aurora is one of the most beautiful natural phenomena, which is hard to put in words – this unique moment must simply be experienced. To see the green and purple waves sweeping across the sky at night, the day must be sunny and clouds must not veil the sky in the evening. Thus, keep a weather forecast website close by at all times. Usually, hotel employees readily share information about the upcoming night and promise to wake up guests from their afternoon slumbers.
To hunt down this marvellous phenomenon, you can trust an experienced guide who just knows in their heart where to go. It’ll most likely be in less habited locations where the reflection from city lights does not get in the way. Mother Nature can be quite stubborn so the northern lights might not materialize after all, but don’t worry, you can always try again the following night.
The Depths of Icebergs
About 11% of the country is covered in icebergs glimmering in blues and greens; if you happen to spot a sign that says jökull, you’ve reached an iceberg! Take this warning very seriously – without appropriate equipment and an experienced guide, don’t step on the iceberg! Snow may be covering cracks in the ice, thus it’s vital to be careful and trust your safety to professionals.
The opportunity to walk straight into the heart of an iceberg is just a flight away; besides, every cave is different, so unusual views are uncovered on every step.
There are several icebergs that can be visited on a day trip from Reykjavik. Vatnajökull or Langjökull won’t disappoint, but if you head south you’ll see some gigantic waterfalls as well. Speaking about fitness, a hike on the icy mountains is suitable for the less athletic kind as well, and seniors will also do just fine.
To enjoy a more peaceful bathing session, choose the Secret Lagoon, situated an hour and a half’s drive from the capital. There’s a small geyser right beside it, which erupts every couple of minutes.
In Reykjavik itself, there’s a small footbath called Kvika by the Grótta lighthouse, created by artist Ólöf Nordal.
The busiest cultural life unfolds in the streets of Reykjavik, of course. The best museums are lined up there, plus, the city can be explored on foot. If you did not manage to see the shimmer of the northern lights in the sky, the planetarium is your second chance. Thanks to modern technology, the crust of the earth will come alive and you might even go to space. It’s situated in the Perlan building, made of a glass dome that sits atop six water tanks, each of which contains four million litres of hot geothermal water.
It’s a fantastic park showcasing the wonders of Iceland’s nature. There is a 100 m long ice cave inside, made out of 350 tonnes of pure snow from the mountains of Iceland.
On crossing the border of Reykjavik, stop by the whale museum Húsavík – 11 whale skeletons are displayed there, including the 25 m long blue whale, the largest mammal on earth.
Of course, you might get lucky and spot a tail while you’re on the shore, but luckily, many whale tours begin in Reykjavik. Go to the old port and be ready to keep your focus on the waves for up to four hours. In the winter, whales come close to the city, but a sizeable flock of killer whales feed by the Snæfellsnes peninsula.