Iceland’s popularity has skyrocketed. I personally know 3 close friends who have visited in the past few months. And I’m jealous. Here are the top 7 reasons why Iceland as gained popularity. Here’s what I found:
1. Iceland’s popularity of Auroras
Ah, auroras, aka the northern lights! This is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think why Iceland would be popular. Did you know you can actually see the these all year long? In the summertime Iceland is bright almost 24/7. The most popular place to see auroras is in northern cities where it’s darkest. eg. Westfjords, Borgarnes, and Reykjavik. You can see the northern lights from August – April from any corner of Iceland. They even have a northern lights forecast. Tours are also available for those who would like a more guided experience.
2. Travel guides picked it
“It’s winter, so I’m dreaming of Iceland’s frozen ice-scapes, geothermal pools, and, of course, the otherworldly northern lights. How many travel destinations on Earth are there where the dramatic highlight of your trip depends on factors such as solar wind conditions and space storms?” —Justin Kavanagh, Traveler series editor, National Geographic Books
Lots of travel guides, including Luxury Travel Guide, NatGeo and Refinery29 featured Iceland. Why did they pick it? The population is only 350k people. It’s an exotic, secluded paradise. Which brings me to my next point…
3. Iceland looks surreal
It’s just breathtaking. Look at it. Walking into Iceland is like walking into a Salvador Dali painting. Geographical features seem to defy gravity. Iceland looks weird. Nothing prepares you for the sheer wackiness of the sights. It’s a home to feisty volcanoes, black sand beaches, sulphur smoke, and angry geysters.
4. The secret life of Walter Mitty
Now sure, this movie was released in 2013, but this movie put Iceland on the radar. Iceland debuted for the first time (as Iceland) in Hollywood. Though it’s a popular location for on location movie sets, the audience usually don’t know it’s Iceland. Films like Oblivion, Prometheus and Thor.. not to mention Game of Thrones have all shot here. The secret life of Walter Mitty features Iceland itself as an integral part of the story. A first for a blockbuster movie. Filming took place in lots of locations all over the country and highlights the diversity of the landscape. Remember the energetic skateboarding sequence anyone?
5. WOW (the new airline)
If you haven’t heard already, there’s a new airline called WOW. The company started took over Iceland Express in 2012, and it’s flown millions of passengers already. They launched with EXTREMELY low-cost fares (starting at $99) to Iceland from all over the East Coast of USA, directly to Reykjavik. If you remember from #1 of this post, It’s THE place to see the northern lights.
6. Hotels everywhere
Since 2014, the number of hotels jumped almost 50%. Tourists were staying overnight more and more. Anything from boutique hotels to AirB&Bs, small lodgings in the countryside provided an authentic experience for visitors. They highlighted the culture and absolute beauty of what Iceland has to offer. Here are some hotels on discount right now for Reykjavik.
For all the foodies out there that have to try the exotic stuff, there’s this morsel called Hakarl. It doesn’t look bad, does it? It’s fermented shark meat. That’s been dried for 4-5 months. Now I love fermented foods… but according to Anthony Bourdain, it’s “the single worst thing I’ve ever put in my mouth”. Visit Iceland and taste it for yourself!
Check out our Travel guides for Iceland!