Iceland’s flag is pretty cool. It was once deep blue with a white Nordic cross, then in 1915 it received an upgrade.
The more modern version sports a red cross inside the white. On its surface, a nice-looking flag to represent Iceland, but one with a deeper meaning – the red for the fire produced by the island’s volcanos, the white for ice and snow, and blue for the ocean.
It was one of the many things I learned on my recent visit to Iceland, a little factoid on the wall at the National Museum, which was one of the many attractions we got to enjoy during our stay.
We saw the Northern Lights, went snowmobiling on a glacier, saw an explosion from the The Great Geysir and bathed in the Blue Lagoon.
We spent five nights there in total and crammed it full of activity and adventure. Yet despite that statement, I feel as though I still have unfinished business there.
So here are 10 reasons why I’m itching to go back to Iceland.
1. The abandoned plane
One thing I completely forgot to put in the Iceland itinerary was the Sólheimasandur plane wreckage, the abandoned remains of a United States Navy cargo aeroplane which crash landed on the Icelandic beach in November 1973.
Amazingly, the entire crew survived the impact, although the exact reason for the crash is still unknown even though the weather-beaten remains have lasted over four decades.
Although not strictly a tourist attraction, it frequently attracts visitors despite the plane being completely gutted, with only its chassis remaining. It’s something that would be great to see in person, and the photos, I’m sure, would be breathtaking.
2. Into the glacier
One decision I had to make before we went to Iceland was whether to do the Golden Circle tour and see the amazing Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss waterfall and Geysir, or have the chance to go inside Iceland’s second-biggest glacier before snowmobiling on top of it.
In the end I chose the former, and it was an amazing experience. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to see the inside of Langjӧkull as well.
It would be brilliant to trek through the man-made ice tunnels that burrow deep into ice and see the beautiful blue that lies at its heart.
Perlan was a futuristic, revolving glass-domed upmarket restaurant located on a hill by the side of Reykjavík Airport. That was until it closed last year.
Now its purpose is a vantage point for tourists, giving an alternative view of Reykjavík city centre. Although I can’t go there for fine dining or fancy cocktails, it would be a treat to get a glimpse of the amazing views, as this is something we didn’t get to do during our stay.
4. Go to the top of Hallgrímskirkja
Hallgrímskirkja is one of the most recognisable figures of the Reykjavík skyline. The Lutheran church stands at 74.5 metres tall and its interesting façade makes it must-see attraction both in the daytime and at night.
We did see the church, and even went inside, but one thing we didn’t get to do is head up to the observation deck at the top of the spire as we arrived too late and it was closing.
It would be amazing to rise above the Reykjavík city centre and look out over it right from the heart of the capital.
5. Eat more Skyr
One of the best things about going to Iceland was skyr! Although technically a cheese, the yogurt-like Icelandic product comes in many flavours including banana, which is available in Reykjavík, but not here in the United Kingdom.
In addition to eating skyr out of little snack size tubs, I also tried skyr cake which was just as amazing, and easily the best Icelandic delicacy (much better than rotten shark, anyway).
If I went back I’d eat banana skyr at least twice a day, because the stuff is absolutely golden. Bring it on!
6. Visit East Iceland
We spent virtually all of our time in western Iceland, but from what I’ve seen and heard, East Iceland and its amazing rugged landscape is definitely somewhere I should visit.
They have fantastic hiking trails, great landscapes that would provide the perfect setting for an afternoon drive and friendly wildlife in the form of reindeer and the Arctic fox.
To see another side to the country that is off the beaten track is an attraction in of itself, and a way I’d like to spend a few days in Iceland.
7. Catch a show at Harpa
Harpa is the eye-catching concert hall and conference centre on Reykjavík’s waterfront, hosting everything from gigs to plays, and even the 2017 World Yoyo Contest.
As it’s one of the country’s premiere event venues, I’d love to spend an evening taking in a show, even if it was in Icelandic. They also offer guided tours of the facility, so even if I couldn’t get tickets to whatever’s on, I could still have a look inside.
8. Eat at a Michelin Star restaurant
The Michelin Guide is a yearly list of the most exceptional restaurants in the world. Iceland happen to do pretty well when it comes to Michelin stars, boasting five – all of which are in the greater Reykjavík area.
I’ve never dined at a Michelin-starred restaurant and Iceland would be a great place to break that duck. Eating out in Reykjavík incurs an incredible expense, so by eating at Michelin recommended establishment would be like killing two birds with one stone. What’s a few extra króna, anyway?
When I went to Thingvellir National Park, what amazed me most was the visible gap between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. It was a thing of natural beauty and something that, as a geography geek, left me in awe.
But you can take it one step further and not only see the divide, but also swim between the tectonic plates.
There are special diving tours in what’s described as “the clearest water on Earth,” and to be able to do that would surely be something that I would never forget.
10. Seeing the midnight sun
The summer solstice is a pretty big deal in Iceland. They celebrate, hold a big, awesome festival and, perhaps best of all, party under the midnight sun.
That’s right, the summer solstice marks Iceland’s longest day, and due to its geographical location, the country experiences over 21 hours of daylight throughout June.
Basking in the glorious sunshine when I would usually be in bed would be a weird, but cool, experience.