Everything you’ve heard is true. Iceland is ridiculously terrific in the best possible ways. Ask us if it lives up to the hype, and we can only say: “You really should go see for yourself.”
The fascination you may be feeling for Iceland is nothing new. Back in 1864, Jules Verne chose a volcano on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula as the entry point for a journey to the center of the earth. He was spot on. It absolutely feels like the planet is trying to spill its secrets on this island. Geysers spout hot spasms into the sky. Gem-blue glaciers groan and bully their way down rocky valleys. Rivers of cooled lava ripple through the landscape. A waterfall shoots horizontally from a high-up cleft before falling in a rainbow cloud of mist to an empty plain. A mountain is as likely to be pink or purple as gray. It’s all there in epic scale, right in front of your unbelieving eyes.
Upfront, you ought to know that your biggest challenge will be trying to describe Iceland in words anybody will believe when you get back home. Your photos will help, but they’ll have the same limitations as all the pictures you look at before your trip. The panorama feature on your camera runs out of patience before you capture a tenth of the view.
Just picture yourself. As you trot across the rough and tumble landscape on a short-legged Icelandic horse, you’re hit with how limitless a horizon really can be. Inch up to the outer limits of a colony with a million Atlantic Puffins, and you realize you’re looking a living, squawking monument that’s older than any pyramid. When you walk on a black beach and see columns of basalt piercing the surf, and you start to understand why Vikings had to create myths to explain the inconceivable. (Three trolls stayed out too late and were turned to stone by the morning sun, in case you couldn’t guess.) Don’t expect a reef when you put on a snorkel mask in Iceland. Instead, you’ll be slipping into clear-as-glass water squeezed between two tectonic plates; the momentary free-fall sensation is an adrenalin rush like no other. Your days overflow with whale watching, exploring volcanic slopes, and glacier walking. This is a country where being a shark fisherman is a real thing, and you’d better believe you’ll meet one.
If you think there’s any chance that Icelandic hotels are where things turn ordinary, think again. Our favorite is the log-cabin style Rangá Hotel that sits in the peaceful, proverbial Middle of Nowhere. Oh, did we mention that it’s also the “Best Hotel in Iceland” and “Best Resort Hotel in Europe?” From the geothermal hot tubs, you have a ringside seat as the sun sets over a tidal estuary. If the stars align, the after-dark show happens above as waving swirls of the Aurora Borealis light the sky. Like just about every aspect of an Icelandic day, it’s disproportionately unique and utterly wonderful.
So you get the idea, right? In the vernacular of a few decades ago, a vacation in Iceland is totally trippy. If you’ve been thinking about going, you definitely should. You’ll come back home ridiculously happy.