Discover a northern paradise where ice meets mountains and nature abounds.
Cruise to Iceland, where you can visit the enchanting cities of Reykjavik and Akureyri and marvel at the country's rough and unusual natural wonders. With a population of only 123,300 people, Iceland's capital and largest city, Reykjavik, is home to colorful houses, a bustling arts scene and centuries of history. For a glimpse into the northern past, check out the Settlement Exhibition, a combination of an archaeological ruin and museum based around a 10th-century house. Then, commune with nature at the world-famous Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa built on a lava field and heated with geothermal energy. Pamper yourself with mud masks and massages while wading in the soothing waters. Even though Akureyri has only 18,000 residents, it's called the Capital of the North for a reason. Head there to warm up in the steaming thermal pool at the head of Iceland's longest fjord, Eyjafjordur.
In Iceland, you'll see rare and stunning nature, from dramatic black rocks to cascading waterfalls and glittering glaciers. Whether you bathe in the natural hot springs of Blue Lagoon or sample the delicious and surprising specialties of Reykjavik, you'll be enamored by Icelandic culture.
Most Icelandic cuisine is based on fish, lamb, dairy and root vegetables. Stop by Icelandic Fish and Chips in Reykjavik to find the best Icelandic meat stew, made with lamb, potatoes, carrots and herbs. If you're brave enough, try hakarl (fermented shark) — but be sure to wash it down with a local craft beer from Lady Brewery.
Hop on a free shuttle in Reykjavik to make your way from Harpa Music Hall to Perlan Dome. At this world-class museum, watch volcanoes, glaciers and geothermal marvels come alive through cutting-edge technology and groundbreaking science. You'll be able to experience Iceland's many natural wonders and attractions all at once at this rotating glass museum.
While you might come to Iceland to glimpse the gorgeous natural wonders the country offers, you'll also find that the cultural highlights are unforgettable as well. Explore the country's past in one of the museums, or check out the works of contemporary designers, who prove Iceland is the definition of cool.
If you're searching for the best shopping spots in Iceland, head to Laugavegur, also known as "The Wash Road." Reykjavik's hippest shopping street offers designer clothes, artisan wools and design-driven home goods. You can also go to the excellent Kolaportio Flea Market in Akureyri, where you'll find many shops with trendy local designer brands, fun souvenirs and high-fashion labels.
Located just southeast of Reykjavik's city center, the Expressionist-style church known as Hallgrimskirkja looms over the streets, mirroring the mountains and glaciers beyond. Enjoy panoramic views from the 75-meter-high spire. Or head to Akureyri's basalt church, Akureyrarkirkja, which also dominates the skyline with its striking futuristic facade. You'll marvel at the shiparagraphCopy that hangs from the ceiling, reflecting the Nordic tradition of giving offerings to protect loved ones at sea.
From its natural wonders to its storied history, Iceland offers something for everyone.
You'll be able to see the aurora borealis, also known as the Northern Lights, from early September to the end of April, but visiting in the summer offers you the benefits of the Midnight Sun, the 24-hour sunlight that shines over the country. Be prepared for crowds, though, in the summer months.
While nearly everyone in Iceland speaks English, you'll pleasantly surprise the locals by speaking a few words in their language. Say "takk" to thank a local, or ask someone if they speak English by saying, "talarðu ensku?" (pronounced "ta-lar-thu en-sku"). Don't be afraid to immerse yourself in the Icelandic culture.
Both the capital Reykjavik and the Akureyri have a large variety of restaurants, where you can eat local or international dishes. Icelandic cuisine is largely based on dairy products, fish, lamb, root vegetables and herbs, so get ready for a hearty meal.
Made from mostly lamb, hot dogs are the national street food of Iceland — you won't have to look far to find one! They're typically made with a mix of local, Iceland-raised pork, beef and lamb. Slather yours with pylsusinnep, a sweet brown mustard, or remoulade, a tangy combination of mayo, mustard, capers and herbs.
Since not a lot grows in Iceland during much of the year, the local cuisine has developed a strong traditional of preserving foods through fermentation. If you're brave enough, try hakarl, the national dish of fermented shark. If you're not feeling uparagraphCopy for the challenge, try herring pickled in vinegar and served a top a slice of dense rye bread.