Even though Iceland is only the size of Kentucky, this country is jam packed with experiences to delight globetrotters and thrill-seekers. Best of all, many of the Icelandic adventures you will enjoy can’t be found anywhere else in the world.
FROSCH Independent Travel Consultant, Maury Newburger, travels to Iceland every year and has watched this country turn into one of the most sought-after vacation destinations.
Though Iceland has had an influx of visitors (and tour buses), Maury believes it’s still possible to find ‘off-the-beaten-path’ Icelandic experiences. Many visit in summer, but Iceland is a year-round destination – even winter offers great adventures. Read below for Maury’s insider tips that he uses to create incredible itineraries for his clients.
Tour an Ice Cave
An ice cave experience is extraordinary, and I highly recommend it to all my clients traveling to Iceland. Put on your helmet, strap on your crampons (special shoes to walk on ice) and be ready to be awe-struck when you enter the cave. The ice caves are natural phenomena where you can truly witness the beauty of mother nature. See remarkable ice sculptures, stalactites, and stalagmites throughout the tour. But when your guide signals the group to turn off the helmet lights, you see nothing at all as you’re standing in total darkness. As you struggle to see, you’ll notice your group has gone completely silent and the only sounds you hear are the single drips of water falling off the ice.
Maury’s Tip – Cave tours are typically seasonally offered; however, I can always find a cave tour for you in Iceland. I arrange these tours year-round for clients and select the cave based on the season my client travels.
Snowmobile Over a Glacier-Volcano
There’s nothing more thrilling than a snowmobile ride over a glacier-volcano. With this ride, you follow your guide at high-speeds while admiring the majestic beauty of the Icelandic landscape. What a wonderful way to spend a sunny 25-degree winter day in Iceland!
Maury’s Tip – If this is your first time on a snowmobile, the high speed can be unsettling at first. But you learn to adjust. Don’t be afraid to take this tour. You don’t want to miss out.
Swim in Geothermal Pools (Yes, even in winter!)
If you think heavy snowfall or sideways sheets of rain will cancel your trip to a geothermal pool, think again! The outside temperatures might be below freezing, but your body is encased in 85-degree water in the geothermal pools. Taking a dip in these naturally heated outdoor pools is the quintessential Icelandic experience dating back to Viking times. The worse the weather, the more fun the experience.
Maury’s Tip – Skip the Blue Lagoon. Opt for the lesser-known lagoons instead. You interact with more locals and less tourists.
Experience the Golden Circle with a Private Driver & Guide
Driving the Golden Circle is popular, and you will see busloads of people on the route to admire the remarkable geysers, waterfalls, and overall natural beauty of Iceland. Consider hiring a private driver, especially in winter. Your driver will know the secret spots to avoid crowds, has experience driving the roads in winter conditions, and will offer great insight into the Icelandic culture.
Delight in the Food & Icelandic Culture
We all remember Björk and her famous swan dress, but she’s not the only Icelandic musician worth mentioning. Reykjavík has a tremendous music scene with a variety of music genres to select. Visit a local nightclub to see musicians performing Blues, Rock, Hip-Hop or Jazz — to name a few.
Literature is an integral part of the Icelandic culture with Iceland boasting an almost universal literacy rate. Browse the local bookstores to find new books to add to your collection. The best known literary works are the Icelandic sagas written between the 12th and 14th century. These sagas tell the story of early settlers while keeping readers engaged with intrigue, wisdom, romance, and conflict. Additionally, mystery novels are worth a read as are the crime and fiction stories.
Tasting traditional food is typically a highlight for most travelers, and Iceland won’t disappoint. The ‘must try’ in Iceland is Rúgbrauð, Icelandic rye bread. The traditional cooking method of this bread is what makes it so remarkable. The bread is baked in a pot buried in the ground near a natural hot spring. Try the bread with butter and jam. It’s delicious. Also, Iceland is best known for its fish and lamb dishes as well as dairy products. The butter will be the best you ever tasted, and Skyr, which has a similar consistency to yogurt, is quite popular too.
Maury’s Tip – Hit the duty-free shops in the airport on departure AND arrival. Most people only think to stop in these stores when they are returning from a trip. But these stores provide great value for Icelandic wine and vodka. Stop in to pick up a few things before heading to your hotel. Then, stop in again before your return flight home.
Once you see the traditional Icelandic sweater called a Lopapeysa in person, you will want one for yourself. You will be the envy of all your friends back home when they spot you in it during the next cold snap. At first, you’ll notice the distinctive yoke pattern, but it’s the wool that matters. A lopapeysa sweater is made from both the inner and outer wool of Icelandic sheep. The inner wool provides warmth, while the outer layer protects against wind and rain. You’ll often see the lopapeysa worn without a coat as it protects against the harsh winter elements enough on its own.
Maury’s Tip – A good Lopapeysa typically costs around $200. When you’re shopping for one, make sure to work with a reputable provider. Nowadays, tourist shops carry imports not made in Iceland to keep up with the demand. If you want authentic, check the sweater carefully or ask your FROSCH Travel Consultant for a recommended supplier.
As you can see, Iceland has plenty to see and there is much to do, no matter the season. Are you ready for a visit? Contact your FROSCH Travel Consultant to get started on an Icelandic adventure of your own!
Thank you for the fantastic insight into Iceland, Maury!
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