Walking up to the lakeside in Reykjavik in Iceland, I shielded my eyes with my hand from the glare of the sun as I gazed at the islands in the distance that were clouded partially. A local resident walked by, only stopping to chortle at the tourists pretending to be Vikings at the monumental skeletal remains of the invading ship that stood calling to the sea. Several cars drove past on the road behind me and I just had to glance at my watch again.
It was two o’clock in the morning.
And yet, the day was still in full swing with daylight still shining through everywhere. Make no mistake; I was in the land of the Midnight Sun.
I was in love with Iceland already and I had just been here for a few hours. My first giddy experience started at Birmingham Airport (UK) where I took a twilight flight with Flybe to Reykjavik to see the orange glare of the setting sun to go down only to rise again as the plane flew closer to Iceland. We were heading further north, further than the UK and closer to the Arctic Circle. The tilt of the Earth meant that the northern hemisphere was closest to the sun therefore the further north you go, the longer the day.
I couldn’t understand what my critics were talking about. They tried to discourage me to go to Iceland in the summer, only to say go in the winter as you will find the temperamental Northern Lights. I disagree. Iceland is not just about the auroras. It is a fabled land where mysteries are revealed to you at every secret corner in Iceland. You can only find them all in the summer when temperatures and daylight allows you to explore without being hindered by snow and ice everywhere.
You know, I’m going to prove those critics wrong. It is worth coming to Iceland in the Summer. Here are my reasons why.
1) Golden Circle Tour
During my first full day in Iceland, I took a Golden Circle Tour with Mountaineers of Iceland to sightsee the best of West Iceland. The green and moraine strewn brown terrain was a wonder to off-road on, sometimes steeply if it wasn’t for the epic tyres on our jeeps. With a running commentary from the tour guide on the interesting facts of the land of fire and ice, punctuated by comments from the drivers, we really got to know Iceland in great detail whether it is environmental, geographical, historical or political. I’ll mark the spots in the other reasons but my favourite part of the Golden Circle was seeing the striking changing landscapes that felt pure, raw and mysterious.
2) Snowmobiling on Langjokull Glacier
I finally fulfilled one of my dreams to set foot on a glacier after being dashed of the opportunity to do so at Franz Josef Glacier in New Zealand. Also with the Mountaineers of Iceland, they took us to Langjokull Glacier to undertake an adrenaline activity that is snowmobiling. We were able to do this in summer in pleasant conditions rather than heavy snow and ice in your face in the winter. Changing into our winter clothing, we jumped on our snowmobiles on the edge of the glacier and, in a line, snowmobiled for the best part of an hour. We stopped to play on the snow and even in summer, I still couldn’t believe the blank canvas background that fooled your eyes to uncomprehend where the sky met the land. It was a brilliant experience to remember and I urge you to do the same when you are in Iceland in the Summer.
3) The Golden Waterfall of Gullfoss
The Gullfoss is possibly one of the most brilliant landmarks of Iceland you will see. The crescending roar of the raw force of nature cascading into the valley below is a majestic sight within the summer greens surrounding the waterfall. Flowers and grasses are kept refreshed by the water spray haze that drenches the passer-by and once you reach the top, you will not be able to stop feeling like you are on top of the world.
4) The Geysers National Park
There’s nothing like the thrill of seeing a Geyser erupt a jet of hot water, heated by the dynamics of the Earth, high into the air followed by a bellow of ‘oohs and ahhs’ from the crowd around you. Also, on the Golden Circle Tour, you don’t have long to wait as these geysers are set off every seven minutes after bubbling ominously beforehand. It’s a great way to see nature at its best in the daylight.
5) Where Two Tectonic Plates Meet
Did you know Iceland is formed by new volcanic material that rises from the Earth’s mantle? Two tectonic plates, the Eurasian Plate and the North American Plate, on a constructive ridge verge from each other. Iceland sits on top of this and continues to get bigger every year, a fact that is the same for the Atlantic Ocean. Eons ago, the Americas was fused to the Eurasian and African plates. In between, the plates, the trench holds subterranean glacial waters called the Silfra where you can snorkel of scuba dive in cold temperatures. Seeing this ridge was a huge highlight for me as I studied this extensively on paper during school and university.
6) Exploring Reykjavik in the Day
The funky capital of Iceland does make you feel like you are at home. The chilled out vibes of the city and its residents can be mostly found in the cafes and bars in downtown Reykjavik. The locals will greet you and are enthusiastic to show you the city. I was asked frequently by the locals, ‘Are you enjoying Iceland?’ Twice, I was greeted warmly and shown around the city after grabbing one of the Viking Beers. The colourful city is best explored around the harbour and at one of its many city-wide festivals that see many residents of Iceland come far and wide to experience. Don’t forget to check out the Reykjavik Culture Night, the best Icelandic Festival.
7) Relaxing in the Blue Lagoon
On the way to the airport, why not stop in the Blue Lagoon? Hot steamy water, rich in minerals and compounds to rejuvenate the skin, are heated up by geothermal currents under the earth. It’s a true relaxing experience to bathe in the waters outside whatever the weather. When I went, it was raining like mad, which added to the dramatic atmosphere. After my spa-like stay complete with face mask and a glass of red wine to boot, I sampled extremely delicious food at their Lava Restaurant, a place where I cannot fault for their delectable cuisine and cheeky, bantering service.
8) Getting Cultured at Harpa Concert Hall
If there’s one place you want to find Icelandic culture and history, then Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavik is truly the place to do. Set in a quirky and grandiose glass paned building, it holds concert halls, meeting rooms and exhibition centres. The Tourist Information Centre is based here and you will be able to find a reindeer here along with shows performed by many Icelandic natural talented acts. I was intrigued by a one person show of ‘How to learn Icelandic in sixty minutes.’
9) Hofi House
The historic Hofi House on the lake shoreline in Reykjavik saw all the world’s attention on it in 1986. It was the base of the 1986 Reykjavik Summit between the American President, Reagan, and the Soviet Leader, Gorbachev. Despite the failed results, it was evident to both sides how many concessions each would make to achieve world peace. I visited Hofi House and I was mightily impressed with the history and architecture within. It was an interesting hour to check out the guided tour of this small house.
10) Twilight flights
To start or finish your Icelandic adventure, simply take a twilight flight with Flybe. Gazing out at the cloudy skies below, high up in the air, your eyes will be riveted to the stunning orange sun setting down only to rise again. It’s one of the best flights I have experienced in my last three years of travelling and possibly the only time I requested a window seat!
These ten reasons make me believe that Iceland is totally worth visiting in the Summer. Although, I’d like to visit Iceland also in the winter, I think the northern country will give you the charm, natural and cultural experience that you may be looking for from a special country that is Iceland.
What are you waiting for? Get yourself there now!
If you like to know more about Twilight Flights with Flybe in the summer until 1st September, check them out here.