Things to do and see in Iceland and Greenland:
Iceland has a richly developed independent culture and absolutely amazing landscapes. Greenland, which belongs to Denmark, has much more to offer travelers than at first may strike the imagination. Each country offers visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves in a truly unique environment, regardless of the activities that make it onto their itineraries.
Greenland, the largest non-continent island, offers the adventurous traveler the opportunity to go whale watching, to seek out the polar bears of the Arctic Circle, to explore unspoiled fiords of incredible beauty by sea kayak, and ice fields and glaciers by foot. It also offers travelers the opportunity to golf inside the Arctic Circle, to hear live traditional folk music, and to browse museums dedicated to the oldest European presence in North America.
Iceland, on the other hand, is an adventure lover’s paradise, boasting great cultural opportunities on the one hand, and a geothermal, volcanic, hiking, winter sports, and exploring paradise on the other.
The weather in Iceland and Greenland:
The story goes that the Vikings named Iceland and Greenland the opposite of what each is purposefully, to keep other groups from visiting and attempting to take over Iceland. Greenland lies almost entirely within the Arctic Circle, and the weather certainly reflects that fact. Summer is short and winter very long on the island. Summer temperatures rarely reach over fifty degrees Fahrenheit, and in winter, they can be sixty below or more.
Iceland, however, lies almost entirely below the Arctic Circle and has a much more temperate climate. It sits in the path of the North Atlantic current, which brings warmer weather with it than would normally be seen at Iceland’s latitude. Summertime highs average in the fifties, and winter lows are just below freezing. Reykjavik, its capital, is the world's most northern capital.
Iceland and Greenland transportation options:
All transportation in Greenland is conducted by boat, plane, or helicopter. There are no roads between settlements, no car ferries to the island, and no railways on the island. Instead, most travel requires reliance on local small craft.
On Iceland, with two-thirds of its population clustered around the capital, Reykjavik, and no railways on the island, most of the transportation to the interior is handled by car or by bus. Reykjavik has a mass transit system, as well. Traveling longer distances in the country is typically accomplished by airplane, (a one-hour flight takes you from Reykjavik's domestic airport in the southwest to the furtherest airport northeast), though some sea travel options exist, for those who may be looking to see the island from the water, or to circumnavigate the island by ship.
Hotels and resorts in Iceland and Greenland:
Greenland offers visitors several hotel and resort options. Though each town may not have a range of accommodations available, most will have at least some place reasonable for visitors to stay.
Iceland, on the other hand, boasts a range of accommodations, mostly three- and four-star hotels. For those desiring five-star luxury, it’s quite limited and not like the five-star hotels you’ll find elsewhere in Europe, but TravelStore can find you the best options. In the major cities, there is a range of options available, but in the interior, options may be far more limited. Increase in visitors has been tremendous in recent years, so it's best to pre-arrange your accommodations well in advance, especially if planning a trip over the prime summer months.
Unique adventures and experiences in Iceland and Greenland:
Given the extremes in vacation opportunities offered by both island destinations, you may not feel the need to get too far off the beaten path on your Iceland or Greenland vacation. But just in case, here are a few ideas for the adventurous at heart.
Visitors can scuba dive between tectonic plates on their trip. Just outside Reykjavik, in Thingvellir National Park, intrepid explorers will find Lake Thingvallavatn directly over the gap between the American and Eurasian plates. You must be certified to dive the lake, but anyone is free to snorkel in it.
Ski where Jules Verne entered the “Centre of the Earth”: Snaefellsjökull, a beautiful, conical volcano where the author set the start of his book, and which now has its own ski lift.
Explore the moon without leaving the planet on Myvatn lake and nature reserve, which is open to visitors year-round. The area boasts a plethora of volcanic and geothermal features that you can hike, bathe in, or fly-over for the full lunar-landscape experience.
You might consider finding a music store in town, sitting down with a cup of espresso and listen to some of Iceland's new bands; or head to Kex, a seaside hostel, and catch a live show at night.
Do visit in winter if you're keen on seeing the Northern Lights at their best. While seeing the Aurora is subject to weather conditions and clear skies, the best sightings are in the winter months. Most excursion companies offer night trips out of reach of the city lights for best viewing.
More about Iceland and Greenland:
Plan your adventure to Iceland and Greenland today. Whether you’re hoping to concentrate solely on the summer adventure options available to you in Iceland, or you’re planning to pull out all the stops and add the ice fields of Greenland to your travel itinerary, set up a vacation experience worth remembering by calling one of our Iceland and Greenland travel experts today. Learn more about vacations in Iceland.
What is the best time of year to go to Iceland?
Iceland is a year-round destination, and experiences available in winter and summer are quite different. During winter months, an Iceland vacation is a wonderland. Just keep in mind that in the winter, in January or February, you may only have several hours of daylight. On the other hand, a main reason to visit in winter is to see the Northern Lights and waterfalls that may be partially frozen. In the summertime, in June or July, you might actually have “endless summer,” where it might be light enough for 20 hours or more.
What are the best tours in Iceland?
The best tours in Iceland depend upon what your personal interests are: are you an active adventure type of traveler or more into culture? For active adventure, there’s the year-round activities of snowmobiling, hiking, “flightseeing” over the volcanoes and glaciers, and going inside a glacier in Hosafell. A visit to the Blue Lagoon is de riguer; you can stay at its retreat, which is expensive but beautiful. There are the year-round hot springs there. You also can go up to Akreyri, which is at the top of the island near the Arctic Circle, or go up to the Arctic Circle in Gramercy Island, which is a very exciting small island where only about 50 people live in the winter. In the summertime, with longer days, there are also more daylight options.
One key consideration is if you are going to be self-driving or don’t want to do self-driving. With your own car, you can circumvent Iceland in an enjoyable manner in a matter of several days. We’d recommend a week to ten days and doing this in summer or early autumn. Later in the year, towards November, some of the weather deteriorates, and it can be really foggy and snowy, and self-driving would not be advisable.
There are a lot of interesting things one can do if you are not doing a lot of hiking or sitting in geothermal pools. There’s one greenhouse that grows only tomatoes, and you can have these fresh tomatoes at a restaurant that has everything based on tomatoes! Ultimately, any physical activity level can be accommodated in Iceland.
How long should I vacation in Iceland?
Between seven and ten days so you can see more than just Reykjavik, which, itself, can take two or three days. In Reykjavik, you can visit the little museums and the church, though hiking and walking around the city are incredibly enjoyable as is. A TravelStore tip: Reykjavik is most enjoyed over the weekend.
How long does it take to take around Route 1 in Iceland?
You can do the whole drive in less than two days! We would recommend longer, however, so that travelers can see all that Iceland has to offer at their leisure. Also, as stated above, driving in late autumn and winter is not advised.
What is the best time to go to Iceland to see the Northern Lights?
Winter because you got much more night. Seeing the Northern Lights, however, is not guaranteed as it depends on how clear the sky is and the weather conditions. The best chance of seeing it is away from city lights. In Reykjavik, usually, they’ll put you on a boat and take you out to see the phenomenon. There is also a system now where you will be alerted on your phone that the Northern Lights are appearing.
How much does a meal cost in Iceland?
Iceland is a pricey country because a lot has to be shipped in. For a dinner for two people, with a bottle of wine, expect approximately $150, though less expensive options do exist. Icelandic bread and butter, smoked salmon sandwiches, cod dinners, lamb entrees, and more are delightful and fresh meals in the country.
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