Incredible hiking, jaw-dropping scenery, glaciers to explore, tectonic plates to dive between; why in the name of travel would Iceland not be on our bucket list? We’ve looked longingly at Facebook posts, drooled over Instagram photos, gotten lost in articles and watched it come to life on our computer screens in videos. However, as for most out there, this isn’t enough! It simply reaffirms why we want to visit this incredible country. And for the outdoor enthusiast, adventure traveller or adrenaline junkie it’s somewhere you simply have to want to go.

Why Iceland Is On Our Bucket List

The Landscape

Amazing Views of the Golden Circle, Iceland

Amazing Views of the Golden Circle, Iceland (Photo Credit: Guide to Iceland)

Like we said, we’ve never been to Iceland, but we’ve always wanted to visit. Pictures in National Geographic make it seem almost alien, but it is as real as real can be and so, so beautiful. For nature junkies like us, Iceland seems like an unexplored paradise. The Golden Circle in Iceland is a classic 300-kilometre long route that loops from the capital, Reykjavík to the centre of the country, and includes Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss Waterfall, and the geysers and hot springs in the region around Geysir. When we finally get around to visiting this amazing country this will be the beginning of our adventure.

You Can Hike Inside A volcano

Hiking inside the Thrihnukagigur volcano, Iceland

Hiking inside the Thrihnukagigur volcano, Iceland (Photo Credit: Rachel Docherty)

Iceland seems custom made for thrill seekers. Did you know Iceland is the only country in the world where you can hike into a volcano? Sure, there are loads of countries where you can hike up volcanoes or around the crater. We got pretty close to the crater of Mount Kerinci in Sumatra in terrible weather conditions; we saw steam hiss from the vents at the summit of Gunung Sibayak and circled the crater of Mount Fuji; but to hike inside a volcano, wow! The Thrihnukagigur volcano is dormant, so no need to worry about bringing your lava-proof swimming gear, but good hiking shoes are recommended for the 400 feet descent into the volcano. We’re buzzing at just the thoughts of it!

Did Someone Say Road Trip?

Stunning scenery driving through Iceland's Golden Circle

Stunning scenery driving through Iceland’s Golden Circle (Photo Credit: Guide To Iceland)

We are suckers for a road trip. Whether it’s in a beat up old car down the west coast of Ireland or on a motorbike into remote, military controlled areas of Northern India, road trips just get us excited. And Iceland is an epic road trip destination. In fact, it’s the most popular way to explore the country. An Iceland road trip? Yes, please!

Road tripping in Iceland - wouldn't it be amazing?

Road tripping in Iceland – wouldn’t it be amazing? (Photo Credit: Guide to Iceland)

The best thing about self-driving is the ability to go at your own pace, stop to take photos when you want to. Decide when and where you go, take breaks and most importantly get lost! The Golden Circle, we hear, is the most popular route but you can always make up your own. Ah, the freedom of your own transport, is there anything like it?

Freezing Cold Water Sports

Fancy surfing Iceland's cold water waves?

Fancy surfing Iceland’s cold water waves? (Photo Credit: Vik)

Iceland is certainly not the country that automatically springs to mind when thinking of a water sports holiday destination. However, there are more reasons to brave the frigid temperatures here than you might think. I saw Iceland popping up in surfing magazines a few years back, with hardcore crews making the trip up north to uncrowded lineups and perfect waves. The water might be cold but with wetsuit technology improving all the time, there’s no reason these waves can’t be ridden.

Scuba dive or snorkel between the tectonic plates at Silfra, Icleand

Scuba dive or snorkel between the tectonic plates at Silfra, Iceland (Photo Credit: Francisco Antunes)

From above the surface to below, Iceland is for water lovers. We’re keen scuba divers and Iceland offers an experience like no other when it comes to diving. Silfra is, believe it or not, one of the world’s top dive sites. Why? It’s all about the location. Perched on a rift between the tectonic plates, you can dive between the American and Eurasian continents. How’s the visibility we hear you ask? How about 100metres? Of course, you’ll have to brave the 2-4 °C temperatures but can you imagine the colours, the underwater topography and floating in that crystal clear abyss where the earth quite literally splits wide open? Incredible!

The beautiful Hvalfjörður inlet, Iceland

The beautiful Hvalfjörður inlet, Iceland (Photo Credit: Rob Oo)

Sea Kayaking on the Costa Brava in Catalonia was amazing or floating through the turquoise waters of the Algarve in Portugal on paddle power alone with the sun beating down was beautiful. But how about sea kayaking through a glacial fjord? The Hvalfjörður inlet is set in a ring of mountains that stretch upwards of 3,000 feet above sea level. It’s dramatic scenery like that that will keep you gliding through the cold waters, no matter how tired you’re getting. It sounds like a dream.

The Hiking, Oh The Hiking!

Amazing views hiking in Iceland

Amazing views hiking in Iceland (Photo Credit: Hafsteinn Robertsson)

Hiking is definitely a big draw for us and no matter where we go, we’re always looking for what trails are nearby. There’s nothing quite like getting away from it all, getting lost in the wilderness and pushing yourself beyond your capabilities. Whether it’s hiking to the summit of Ireland’s highest mountain, summiting Jebel Toubkal, North Africa’s tallest peak or trekking through the Everest Region in Nepal for 23days, hiking gets our motor running.

Section of the Laugavegur trek, Iceland

Section of the Laugavegur trek, Iceland (Photo Credit: Graham van der Wielen)

In Iceland, the Laugavegur trek is the most popular hiking trail, a 55-kilometre trek between Landmannalaugar and Þórsmörk which takes four to five days to complete. With optional side treks to add on, glaciers to cross, incredible natural beauty to get lost in and crisp, clean air to breath, this one is a no brainer. You can fill your bottle from the stream if you’re thirsty, no need for purification tablets; it’s that untouched!

Volcanic eruption at the Fimmvörðuháls hiking trail

Volcanic eruption at the Fimmvörðuháls hiking trail (Photo Credit: Börkur Sigurbjörnsson)

You can tack on the Fimmvörðuháls hiking trail for an extended journey, taking in a brand new mountain along the route where smoke is still rising from ground that remains warm. Apparently, you can toast a sandwich by wrapping it in tinfoil and burying it in the soil here. An Icelandic soil-toasted cheesy- now that’s something we’d like to try!

How can you not want to hike in Iceland?

How can you not want to hike in Iceland? (Photo Credit: Dimitry B.)

And the best news for any other hiking fans out there is that this is just the beginning. These are the most popular trails in the country but there are three national parks in the country littered with trails and ready for exploration. From day hikes to multi-day treks, there’s something for every fitness level. Whether you want to hike to the hot river in Reykjadalur outside of Reykjavík or to the top of Glymur, Iceland’s highest waterfall, there really is something for every taste.

Is That All?

The Northern Lights, Iceland

The Northern Lights, Iceland (Photo Credit: Guide to Iceland)

Absolutely not – this is just the tip of the Iceland! (Get it?! Iceberg-Iceland!) You can snowmobile, go dogsledding, get some of the best views of the Northern Lights in the world and eat strange local delicacies such as pylsur (Icelandic hot dogs!), shark, horse or even the bizarre Hrútspungar – pickled ram’s testicles! There seems to be a never-ending list of experiences, adventures and possibilities when it comes to Iceland.

Iceland: The Land of Fire and Ice

Iceland: The Land of Fire and Ice (Photo Credit: Guide to Iceland)

We’ve never written a post before about a place we haven’t been but Iceland grabs our attention in a special way. It ticks all the boxes for real exploration, independent travel and experiencing something completely different. For now, it will remain on our bucket list but when that day comes (and it will) that we are boarding a flight to the Land of Fire and Ice, you can be full sure that we will be frothing at the chance to explore this incredible country.

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Brian Barry
Brian is a travel writer, photographer, blogger, travel addict and adventure junkie. Being outdoors, getting off the beaten track and outside his comfort zone is what makes him tick. Brian's the dreamer in the relationship; when he's not travelling, he's dreaming about it! Keeping fit, cooking, music and red wine take up the rest of his time.
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wanderingon37.6K followers☘ Irish Travel Couple - Brian & Noelle 🌍 Nomadic for 10+ years 🏞️ Hiking, Adventure & Inspiration ✈ Independent Travel 📍Edinburgh 👇🏻Travel Tips & Blog
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\"No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.\"⁠ — Nelson Mandela⁠ ⁠ \"Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.\"⁠ — Martin Luther King Jr.⁠ ⁠ “Never look down on anybody unless you\'re helping him up.”⁠ — Jesse Jackson⁠ ⁠➳⁠ 📷 Views from the first floor of the Hagia Sophia Museum looking towards The Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey 🇹🇷⁠ ➳⁠ We understand that being white and therefore, inherently privileged, we can never truly understand this struggle, however, we completely stand with the movement and the idea that all human beings everywhere in the world should be treated equally and have the same chances and opportunities in life.⁠ ⁠➳ Unfortunately, this isn\'t the case and the thought that someone can be treated differently simply because of the colour of their skin absolutely breaks our hearts.💔⁠ ⁠➳ In our privileged position, we need to learn about and educate ourselves about these issues in every way we can and do our best to change the views of those around us.⁠ ⁠➳ To quote another great changemaker, Mahatma Gandhi, you need to “be the change that you wish to see in the world.” ⁠ It starts with you, to move in the world with love and respect for all.⁠ ❤️✨✌ #BlackLivesMatter⁠
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“Because when you stop and look around, this life is pretty amazing.” —Dr. Seuss » Brian standing in absolute awe at the El Castillo pyramid at Chichen Itza!🗿🇲🇽 » Built by the Mayans sometime between the 8th and 12th centuries, Chichen Itza is a huge complex of Mayan ruins located on the northern half of Mexico’s beautiful Yucatan Peninsula.🗿🇲🇽 The complex is an inscribed UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. » Built from limestone, El Castillo stands at a height of 30m including a 6m temple on top. Each of the pyramid\'s four sides has 91 steps up it, making 364 steps total, with the temple topping the pyramid considered an additional step totalling 365, each step representing a day in the calendar.📆 El Castillo is also known as the Temple of Kukulkan as it served as a temple to the Mayan feathered serpent god Kukulkan, or Quetzalcoatl.🐍 » We visited this time last year, however, the spring and autumn equinoxes are the best days to visit to see the “descent of Kukulkan\".🐍 » According to legend, twice a year when the day and night are in balance 🌗, the pyramid is visited by its namesake Kukulkan.🐍 Thanks to the crafty and mathematically brilliant architecture of the Mayans combined with the natural rotation of the Earth on the equinox, an amazing eerie image of a giant snake crawling down the temple is created. Kukulkan returns to earth to provide blessings for a full harvest and good health before bathing in the sacred waters below and continuing on his way to the underworld. » If you can\'t visit on either equinox, don\'t worry! The phenomenon is recreated nightly during the Light and Sounds Show at 7pm in winter and 8pm in summer. » We love doing things independently as much as we can when we travel. As Chichen Itza is located just a couple of hours drive away from Playa del Carmen (and Cancun) we rented a car and drove there ourselves so we didn\'t get to stay for the light show as we had to drive back.🚗 » What\'s your travel style? Are you a DIY person or do you prefer to go on an organised tour? Let us know in the comments below!💬👇 » #WanderingOn #LiveToTravel #Mexico #ChichenItza #SevenWondersOfTheWorld
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“Sunsets are proof that no matter what happens, every day can end beautifully.” — Kristen Butler » The sun sets over Edinburgh from Calton Hill, one of the seven hills of Edinburgh.🌆 » Set right in the city centre, Calton Hill is unmistakable with its unfinished Athenian acropolis poking above the skyline, giving Edinburgh it\'s nickname, the \"Athens of the North\". » It\'s a popular sunset spot as it\'s easily accessed - it only takes about five minutes to get to the top of the hill from two staircases on either side, or you can drive up and park - and it offers panoramic views down the length of Princes Street and of Edinburgh Castle.🏰 There are also great views of the coloured cliffs of the Salisbury Crags, Arthur\'s Seat, and the slopes of Holyrood Park.⛰️ » On the last night of April, up to 12,000 people take to Calton Hill for the Beltane Fire Festival, an ancient Celtic fertility festival. 🔥 Traditionally, Beltane was the start of the pastoral summer where animals were taken from their winter shelter to the fields and \"Beltane\" is the Gaelic word for May. » In Edinburgh\'s revivalist celebration of Beltane, three hundred or so voluntary performers from the Beltane Fire Festival Society celebrate the ending of the \'dreich\' (Scottish slang for dreary and bleak) Scottish winter and the hoped-for season of warmth and new growth with drumming, fire performance, revelry, and a ritualised procession around Calton Hill. 🔥 As well as the fiery displays, acrobatics, pulsating drums, and body-painted theatrics, the Beltane Fire Festival Society retell an immersive story for the crowd. » The revival of this festival started in 1988 as a free event but is now ticketed. There is also a Samhuinn (Samhain) Fire Festival on Halloween night which traditionally marked the beginning of winter in the Celtic calendar. 🎃 We hope to catch the Samhuinn Fire Festival festival later in the year! » Have been to any interesting cultural festivals? Let us know!💬👇 » #WanderingOn #LiveToTravel #EdinburghScotland #CaltonHill
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