At the gate of the Arctic Ocean and just 3h30 flight from France, this island of fire and ice captivates wildlife lovers.
Burning, extreme, bubbling. Iceland is a destination like no other. It is an experience in itself. You navigate through the middle of an iceberg with unrealistic shapes, you explore Europe’s second largest glacier on foot, and you are speechless in front of a powerful geyser emanating from the bowels of the earth. Shaped by intense volcanic activity, this island of character provides a set of exceptional locations.
Located in the southeast of the country, Vatnajökull is the second largest ice cap in Europe. With an area of approximately 8,000 km2, it covers 8% of Iceland. Since 2008, it has been part of the Vatnajökull National Park. The ideal for this giant discovery of ice is to go to Skaftafell, the starting point of many marked routes. Just an hour’s walk away, you’ll encounter Scaffatafelsjokul, one of the glacial languages of Bhatnajokul.
Another steep climb will take you to the magnificent Morsarjokul Glacier. Of course: book a trip with a guide for walking on ice. Wear your crampons and admire this ice universe. Several companies offer tours.
You can take a classic car to Skaftafell on the n ° 1 (327 km from Reykjavik) Asphalt Road or take the n ° 51 bus. The signposted route from Skaftafell is listed here.
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60 km east of Skaftafell, Jökulsárlón is an absolutely unexpected site in Iceland. Breiðamerkurjökull, another glacial tongue of the famous Bhatnajokul, melts to form a lagoon full of ice blocks. If you’ve never seen an iceberg, discovering this Arctic landscape can feel like an early experience. Imagine yourself floating in these ice giants of different shapes and colors. From white to black to azure blue and turquoise, icebergs also vary depending on the light and time of year.
Jökulsárlón paved road accessible all year round by n ° 1. You can admire the scenery from the coast but the best is a boat trip (April to October). Two options: amphibious boat (many departures per day) or zodiac (fixed time, better to book early). Between November and March, the boat does not leave but you can visit an ice cave at the bottom of Bhatnajokul. The Glacier Lagoon Agency offers this trip.
Thingvelli National Park
Located 47 km from the capital Reykjavিকk, Þingvellir National Park is the first of three major Golden Circle sites. This famous tourist route can be done in a day or more if you are not in a hurry. At Þingvellir, you can have a unique experience: walking between two tectonic plates! At this precise location, the North American and Eurasian plates are moving a few millimeters away each year, explaining the significant volcanic activity on the island. This movement leads to the formation of defects like Almannagzar a few meters deep. Unique Sense: You find yourself traveling Europe and America. The national park also holds a high place in Iceland’s history: the country’s first parliament was established here in 930 AD, which is listed by UNESCO.
Þingvellir is accessible all year round with a passenger car. For an unforgettable moment, dive between two continents at the level of the Silfra Fault. The clarity of the water and its geological location make it a popular diving spot. More info: thingvellir.is/en/
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Geyser of Geyser
60 km east of Þingvellir, Geysir geothermal field is the second major location of the Golden Circle route. If you have never seen Giza, here is a golden opportunity to see this rare and fascinating sight. This set of warm springs is made up of several geysers, ranging from gassers, famous for naming the event. Today it is not very active but right next to it you can admire the strokes, which shoot large jets of boiling water every five to ten minutes. Cool sure!
Many companies offer day trips from Reykjavik to route the Golden Circle. For more freedom, it is better to rent a car. The road is paved all year round and is suitable for general traffic. In June, July and August, the days are very long (about 20 hours of sunlight). The ideal is to visit this in the morning or at the end of the day to avoid parties. More info: south.is/en/what-to-see-do/nature/the-great-geysir
10 km from Gesi, this waterfall is the third unexpected place on the Golden Circle route. It is formed by the river Hvítá which starts from the Lanzokul Glacier and flows here with a deaf deen. You will be even more impressed that it is actually a double waterfall whose first step is eleven meters and then a second fall of 21 meters. The result is spectacular and will amaze you. One path, open only in summer, provides access as close as possible to the waterfall. You will be able to spray with a strong spray that rises from the bottom of the gorge. Something to excite you a little!
If you rent a car, you can park in the lower parking lot and then walk or drive to the upper parking lot. You will benefit from different perspectives. And above all, don’t forget your raincoat! More info: gullfoss.is
Lined with yellow, pink, and red, its Ryolite Mountains, Landmannalaugar is one of the most aesthetically pleasing sites in the country. From the shelter, you will love many walks. Don’t miss the road to Brennisteinsalda, a volcano that ends at 855 meters that will amaze you with its red glow. At its feet, you walk in the middle of the sulfatras, fumarol emits large amounts of sulfur. Also climb to the top of Bláhnúkur, a volcano of amazing blue-green color, covered in gray ash at the top. Back at the shelter, relax in the hot spring at 38 degrees Celsius.
Landmannalaugar is accessible only in summer. From June to September, a daily bus leaves Reykjavik bus station. Otherwise, you will have to pay a 4×4 rent. You can take a day trip with an agency from Reykjavik.
To sleep in the hut, book early: fi.is/en/mountain-huts/all-mountain-huts/landmannalaugar. Other accommodation options in the area are listed here.
Want to travel to another planet? So, do not miss the Lake Mývatn region in the north-east of the country, and especially the geothermal region of Hverarönd. As soon as you arrive you will be overwhelmed by the strong smell of sulfur. Listen closely and you will hear the strange sound of the earthen pool bubbling around you. White fumarol rises from the depths of the earth, giving this space its extraterrestrial charm. Take the trail to the top of Namafzal Mountain to get a bird’s eye view of this surreal landscape. At 10 km, visit Hverfjall crater. A path lets you climb up to the ridge. The key is a spectacular view of the algae-covered lava fields.
Lake Mývatn is 460 kilometers from Reykjavিকk. To save time, the ideal is to fly to Akureyri and then rent a car to explore the Northeast. It doesn’t take 4×4 to go to Hverarönd. The site is accessible by road n ° 1 with a tourist car. More info : visitmyvatn.is/en
Detifs and Selfus Falls
Located northeast of the island, Detifs is the strongest waterfall in Europe, with a flow rate of up to 500m3 / s. At 44 meters high and 100 meters wide, this lightning waterfall is one of the most glorious natural places in the country. Within a kilometer you can walk to another waterfall: Shelfs. Less high (11 meters), it is still 100 meters wide, which makes it impressive. For this visit, plan a raincoat and good shoes because the soil is slippery and you will get wet by the water coming from the gorge.
Dettifoss Mývatn is just 77 km from the lake. So you can combine these two areas starting from Akureyri. The waterfall is n ° 1 then accessible all year round by passenger car on Road 862. In winter, learn about road conditions. More info: northiceland.is
Checking the weather is essential, especially if you travel in the winter. In case of bad weather, the mentioned roads may be closed. To check, see: road.is
[Initialement publié le 15 février 2021, cet article a fait l’objet d’une mise à jour.]
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