It’s July and we’re heading into the peak summer holiday season. This year people are considering a wide range of destinations that they previously wouldn’t have considered – maybe for the adventure, maybe just for a change, or maybe because a global pandemic has massively decreased the options available to us.

Planning a trip is difficult at the moment, but one of the easier places to travel to (if you’ve been fully vaccinated) is Iceland.  Is it on the green list? Yes. Is it the classic summer holiday? Hmm, not so much.  Here’s what to expect:

Palm trees?

No. In fact Iceland is lucky to have trees at all. Before the first settlers arrived in the year 874 – or perhaps even earlier, Iceland was basically covered in trees. However, over hundreds of years around 95% of its forests were destroyed to make room for livestock and agriculture. The problem is, reforesting is tricky in Iceland due to the quality of the volcanic soil and the weather conditions…also animals love to munch on a young tree.

There’s even an old joke: ‘What do you do if you get lost in an Icelandic forest?’ ‘Stand up’. But joke no more because there’s now a number of beautiful, yet relatively young, forests there.

You don’t actually need trees for beautiful vistas in Iceland. The country has an otherworldly landscape with some of the most stunning views imaginable. The ‘Golden Circle’ is a popular tourist route that takes in some of Iceland’s most amazing sights such as the infamous geysers and the Gullfoss waterfall. I went years ago and it was so beautiful I felt like I was on a film set!

Gullfoss-Iceland
Gullfoss, Iceland - photo by Margrét Jóna

Beaches and warm seas?

Yes there are beaches – it’s unlikely you’d want to sunbathe on them but they’re definitely worth seeing, especially Diamond Beach. This beach gets its name from the pieces of glacier that wash up on its black sand. They’re so clear they look like diamonds glinting in the sun.

Beach-Ice-Iceland
Diamond Beach, Iceland – photo by apascuito

If you want a warm dip, the sea is not for you, see above, there are chunks of ice on the beach for goodness sake. However, the Blue Lagoon is a delight. This place is a spa that harnesses the power of geothermal seawater. And it really is blue, beautifully so.

Blue Lagoon, Iceland
Blue Lagoon, Iceland – photo by Joiseyshowaa

Sunshine?

Yes and no. Due to its position on the globe, from May to August Iceland has what’s known as Midnight Sun. And in May, June and July the sun doesn’t set AT ALL. I can’t get my head round going to bed in the daylight! This picture was taken at midnight. Would the novelty ever wear off?!

Midnight sun, Iceland
Insomnia, Iceland – photo by Gudny Olafsdottir

Quite possibly the novelty would wear off when winter rolled around because there’s a maximum 5 hours of daylight a day on the shortest days. That’s got to be tough. However, there is always the possibility of seeing the northern lights, that’s pretty exciting!  

Northern Lights, Icelan
Northern Lights, Iceland – photo by Giuseppe Milo

So do you fancy going to Iceland this year? When would you prefer to go – summer or winter? Iceland is definitely cool (you knew that pun would sneak in here somewhere) but cool enough to replace the classic summer holiday this year?

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