Reykjavik is the capital of Iceland, and the first area of settlement on the island when Viking Ingólfur Arnarson led his Norsemen to the area around AD 870. Reykjavik is a wonderful city to explore with its colorful houses and rooftops, beautiful architectural sites, museums, and great restaurants and bars. It's a nice place to unwind and sightsee after exploring the Golden Circle or any of the other natural wonders on the island.
Info: Official Website
Favorite Restaurant: Fiskmarkadurinn
Hallgrímskirkja is a Lutheran church designed by Architect Guðjón Samúelsson and completed in 1986. The silhouette of the church resembles columnar pillars that ascend to a 73 meter high tower. The shapes were inspired by the basalt rock formations found in Iceland.
9am-9pm Summer (May - September)
9am-5pm Winter (October - April)
Tickets: Adults ISK 900, Children ISK 100
HARPA CONCERT HALL
Harpa is a concert hall designed by Henning Larsen Architects, Batteríið Architects, and Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson. It was completed in 2011 and features a geometric glass facade inspired by the basalt formations found throughout Iceland.
ANIMALS OF ICELAND
While driving across the island we stopped at the side of the road countless times to pet the animals or sometimes to wait for the sheep to cross over. A visit to Iceland would not be complete without seeing and riding one of the beautiful Icelandic horses. Brought over by the Vikings, these horses are the size of ponies and for over a thousand years have become acclimated to the harsh winters of Iceland. They Icelandic horse has five gaits, two of which are unique to their breed: the “tölt”, and the flying pace. The tölt is a four-beat gate that boasts the smoothest ride, making the Icelandic horse one of the most comfortable horse breeds to ride on. I really recommend taking a ride on one of these amazing animals. It's also a great way to experience the raw nature of Iceland!
Gullfoss is a waterfall located on the Hvítá River and is one of the most popular sites along the Golden Circle. The water falls about 32 meters down and is a really spectacular sight.
Strokkur Geysir is a fountain geyser located near the Hvítá River, and erupts every 6-10 minutes to about 15-20 meters high. It's part of the Golden Circle route, and really close to Gullfoss, so definitely check out both when you're in the area!
Landmannalaugar is situated in the Highlands of Iceland, and is truly a magical place. There are amazing hiking trails, camping sites, geothermal rivers, and Ljótipollur crater lake ("Ugly Pond"), to name a few of the stunning sites you will see on your trip there. Make sure to have a sturdy 4x4 car when driving to this area as the roads are rocky and unpaved.
Info: Here and Here
SUMMER IN ICELAND
Nature in Iceland is beautiful no matter the season, but June is a wonderful time to go see the purple, Alaskan lupine flowers, camp outdoors, hike (without freezing into an icicle), go horseback riding, and so much more. We spent about 3 nights and 4 days in Iceland, and it was altogether too short! We missed out on the entire north and west side of the island, and will definitely be planning another trip out there. We recommend going for at least a week to enjoy everything Iceland has to offer.
Photography: Annie Cho, Jackson Kuo