Iceland is not a holiday destination on the radar for many… but perhaps it should be. The island nation, situated in the Atlantic Ocean between Europe and North America, is known to many as a place to view the northern lights. But it seems there is a whole lot more to see and do during the summer!
Our member Kaiser recently visited during the middle of summer. Over two weeks, this member circumnavigated the island along the sealed ring road. Although there are a plenitude of accommodation options all over the island, hostels proved an inexpensive and practical option for overnight stops.
The ring road route offers some truly spectacular scenery. Overbearing mountains, picturesque countryside, cliffs and icebergs contribute to the incredible natural beauty that awaits lucky visitors.
One of my favourite areas was the Öxi pass, which gives you stunning views of this stepped valley, lots of meandering streams and small waterfalls to stop and chill. Speaking of chill – the weather during spring and summer is not as cold as you might expect – but the wind can be fierce and expect lots of rain/sleet at various times throughout the day.
There is similarly no shortage of spectacular waterfalls to keep visitors mesmerised.
Iceland is a waterfall lovers paradise. You will drive past many along the Ring road and some of the more famous ones are well signed and have paved road access. We preferred going to the less popular ones especially in peak season as there were hoardes of buses and crowds at the bigger known waterfalls such as Detifoss, Godafoss and Gulfoss.
During the northern hemisphere summer is by far the most popular time of the year to visit Iceland. Average temperatures in July and August are surprisingly mild, at around 13 degrees. And being so close to the North Pole, Iceland experiences perpetual daylight for several weeks during the peak of summer.
The first trip in May 2011 I could have gotten away with not booking most of the hostels. However the second time I returned in the peak of summer (July 2014) and most of the hostels were full – I had to book about 4 months out. I think it was a combination of the booming popularity of the country and the fact it was the middle of summer. The highway never had traffic jams or anything but the carparks at some sites got full during the daytime. The benefit of summer though is you can go somewhere at anytime of the night and still have decent light.
Winter as a less popular time to visit Iceland. The days are known to be dark and cold, but there is one significant advantage of travelling outside of summer: the chance to view the Northern Lights. These won’t be seen during summer as total darkness is required.
A number of airlines fly non-stop to Iceland from cities around Europe including British Airways, Air Berlin, EasyJet and Icelandic low-cost airline Wow Air. Another popular way to see the Nordic island nation is by taking advantage of Icelandair’s free stopovers on flights between Europe and North America. Icelandair actively promotes their free stopovers in Iceland in order to attract customers to book with them across the Atlantic. It’s a win-win, as this provides a fantastic opportunity for many travellers who would otherwise never get to visit.
Discover more about Iceland and follow Kaiser‘s adventure HERE.