Manila has been scorching hot these past weeks with an average temperature reaching 37.9 to 38.6 degrees Celsius and in the heat of the midday sun, all I can think of is how much I want to go back and feel the wind chill of the breathtaking Iceland once more.
Situated between the North Atlantic and the Arctic Ocean, Iceland flaunts its untouched barren but scenic land where, although the glaciers are present all year round, the natural hot springs and geothermal pools are very much alive, too.
You travel on vast lava fields with the stunning view of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge going past Hekla, one of the major volcanoes in Iceland, and the next thing you know, the spectacular Eyjafjallajökull glacier comes in sight. This is why Iceland is accurately the land of fire and ice—most of its dramatic terrain is volcanic but frozen.
For someone who has been living in a tropical country her whole life, being able to see such a grandiose beauty is utterly a wonderful experience. Unequivocally, Iceland deserves a spot on everyone’s bucket list and here are just a few of the countless reasons why:
6 Reasons Why Iceland Should Be on Your Travel Bucket List
6. The welcome treat at the Blue Lagoon
From Keflavik International Airport, head straight to the Blue Lagoon, a man-made geothermal spa and one of the most visited tourist attractions in Iceland. The route to Reykjavik, the capital city of Iceland, passes through Grindavick, where the Blue Lagoon is located, making it the perfect first stop on your itinerary.
Long cue for the pre-booked comfort package tickets. Do not forget to book in advance.
We learned that the water used in the lagoon is emitted from the ground near a lava flow by the adjoining geothermal power plant and the silica and mineral deposits of the geothermal water are believed to be beneficial to the skin.
It was gloomy, drizzling, and cold (1 degree) on the day we arrived at the Blue Lagoon, but it was just the perfect time to soak in its relaxing warm water, sip a glass of wine from the outdoor Lagoon bar, and marvel at the enchanting view and peacefulness of the lagoon.
The actual color of the lagoon water is murky white, but because of the sunlight’s reflection and the silica, it looks blue. And, there might be a lot of visitors, but the lagoon is huge so everyone can find a spot to relax.
5. The Icelandic food and culture
Hitting the city center and main attractions is fun and all good, but to really experience the story behind a new place and its people, you have to wander around local neighborhoods away from the tourist hub. It is in these quiet narrow streets where people watching feels more rewarding and living in the moment brings unfathomable joy, especially in a laid-back country like Iceland.
There are plenty of hostels and hotel options to choose from in Reykjavik, but we opted to rent an apartment in Hafnarfjordur, a small municipality 15 minutes away from the city center by bus. The apartment was rented out by a thoughtful Icelandic couple, who lives on the upper floor.
We took advantage of their modern kitchen because we knew that commodity prices in Iceland are steep so instead of dining out all the time, we cooked most of our meals. That meant I got to do grocery shopping and delightfully look into the unfamiliar packaging of food and household items. I love visiting the grocery stores when traveling. It gives me a fascinating experience of a totally different culture.
On our last day, our hosts suggested that we visit their community geothermal public pool, Suðurbæjarlaug. It was where most of the adult local residents go to before going about their business for the day.
The entrance fee was ISK 500 or approx. 3.52 euros for a whole day stay. I couldn’t thank our hosts enough for recommending this. My most favorite part was joining a group of oldies, perhaps in their late 50s, in a jacuzzi or what they call a “hot pot”. There were no words spoken among us, no nosy stares—just an exchange of languid smiles, and on that sporadic moment of silence, I felt at peace and grateful to be where I was.
When you get tired from all the walking, picture posing, selfies, and souvenir bargaining, head down to the harbor in Reykjavik and snack on the “best hot dogs in town” or famously known Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur. Icelanders boast about the quality of their lamb meat and their famous lamb hot dogs. Yes, they serve hot dogs made of pork, beef, and lamb with a generous serving of tasty caramelized onions.
The Hallgrímskirkja, a Lutheran parish church in Reykjavik
Just across the Hallgrimska Church, one cannot miss Café Loki, a small cozy two-storey cafeteria that serves traditional Icelandic food.
The waitress said the Icelandic farmer’s coffee is the staple coffee served in every local Icelandic household. It is a mixture of coffee and Brennivin (liquor). When she said staple, I knew I’ve got to try it, but it was the worst coffee ever. I didn’t even had a second sip, so just skip that.
Icelandic Plate I: Rye bread slices with mashed fish, smoked trout, egg, and herring, flatbread with sheep-head jelly, bean salad, and turnip
Icelandic Plate III: rye bread slices with mashed fish, egg & herring and Loki’s rye bread ice cream.
For dessert, Iceland is known for its cream yogurt called Skyr.
How about an ice cream in Iceland? You’ve got to try Ísbúð Vesturbæjar in Hafnarfodur.
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