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In recent years, rumors have begun to spread about the existence of a small Nordic island nation in the North Atlantic Ocean; an island defined by dramatic landscapes, with volcanoes, geysers, hot springs, lava fields, and elves. Yes, elves.

Rumors of this magical place are spreading like wildfire, and travelers have started arriving from all over the land. Though how do you know if Iceland is a country for you? Even though it’s a pretty safe bet in terms of an incredible vacation, what kind of travelers does it suit?

5 Types of Travelers Who Visit Iceland

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Solo Travelers

Iceland is the perfect destination for solo travelers. Not only is it exotic and incredibly unique, with some of the world’s most jaw-dropping scenery, it’s one of the safest countries in the world, and crime rates are incredibly low. Hitch-hiking-is-a-common-practice kind of low.

While the country’s main language is Icelandic, English is spoken fluently, and there’s almost no language barrier (you may have difficulty pronouncing street signs though!) There is a lot of infrastructure for tourism, so it’s very easy to join a tour, or rent a car to get where you want to go.

And you won’t get bored! Although you may not be traveling with company, there is so much in Iceland to keep you occupied. There’s a range of urban adventures throughout Reykjavik, with an eclectic cultural, nightlife, and food scene. But then, outside of the city, you have a huge range of opportunity; you can hike out onto glaciers, or try your hand at ice-climbing. You can visit active volcanoes, white-water raft, or catch the incredible Northern Lights.

Iceland is the perfect destination for solo travelers.

Nature Lovers

Iceland is a country full of natural wonders, and it is difficult to remain unmoved by the amazing diversity of it’s landscape. Though contrary to popular belief, Iceland is not an island which is covered completely in ice.

Iceland is a stunning playground with everything from majestic glaciers, cracked lava fields, gushing geysers, vibrant green fjords and geothermal lagoons. Also, due to its location between two tectonic plates that are spreading apart in the mid-Atlantic range, the country has a high concentration of active volcanoes; one of the highest in the world.

For nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, these pristine landscapes are some of the most beautiful in the world. And due to a lack of tourism, once you rent a car and drive out of the city, you’re practically alone. Rent a cottage in Iceland to immerse yourself fully.

Unlike other parts of the world, you’re not restricted on where you can explore. But please be aware that the nature in Iceland is fragile, and you should understand your impact. Simple things like not littering, leaving places the way you found them, and respecting both nature and wildlife. In Iceland this means not walking or jumping on the moss. It might look nice and springy, but it takes forever to grow back.

Iceland Waterfall RF

For nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, these pristine landscapes are some of the most beautiful in the world.

Wildlife Enthusiasts

Wildlife access in Iceland is unparalleled; it’s truly a wildlife enthusiasts dream. Horses roam freely by the side of the road (though note that these are usually owned by someone regardless of roaming free), and exotic seabirds, like puffins arrive by the million to breed.

Iceland is home to a huge array of exotic seabirds who nest on coastal cliffs all around the country in massive colonies (breeding season between April and August). You can literally walk on top of these if you’re not careful, and get incredibly close for stunning photography.

Though if you’re more interested in marine mammals, Icelandic waters are home to around 24 species of whales, and the North has extraordinary whale watching. Home to many different species of whales, dolphins and birds, take a sailing trip out from Húsavík to Skjálfandi during summer.

You’re most likely to see seals and dolphins, though with any luck you’ll witness the spectacular humpback whales leaping out of the water in a breach, or perhaps even spot an orca.

Wild Icelandic Horses

Adventure Seekers

Iceland is a country defined by it’s outdoors, and her portfolio of adventure / adrenaline activities is enough to rival New Zealand for the title of adventure capitol of the world.

Nothing gets you closer to Iceland’s raw, natural landscapes than hiking across it, and with the choice of grassy meadows bursting with wildflowers, lava fields, black-sand deserts and icefields, the options of hiking terrain here are both varied and vast.

During summer months of June and July, Iceland experiences the midnight sun – a natural phenomenon where the sun never sets. With 24 hours of daylight, and a law that allows you to camp anywhere for free, many travelers choose to pitch a tent.

Swimming is a popular pass time, and almost every Icelandic town boasts an outdoor geothermal pool or lagoon. There are also opportunities for white water rafting, ice-climbing, horse-riding, scuba-diving, visiting man-made ice caves, quad biking, snowmobiling, skiing, and that’s just to name a few!

Iceland is a country defined by it’s outdoor adventure scene.

Fantasy Nerds

‘Iceland is a country of striking and sometimes supernatural beauty, which is matched by its rich and extensive folklore.’ It has a mythical history like no other place, filled with stories of elves, trolls, vikings, ghosts, and supernatural beings.

Those visiting the country can visit the sites of thousands of years of mythology and folklore – and perhaps even to see elves and trolls yourself, if some locals are to be believed. Folklore is such a huge part of Iceland’s cultural identity, that you can even make a trip around Iceland based on myth and legend! (There’s also the Game of Thrones appeal).

Surveys suggest that more than half of Icelanders believe in, or at least entertain the possibility of the existence of, the Huldufolk – the hidden people. And this sparks environmental protests to this day. Roadwork projects that run into trouble are sometimes said to be angering local elves and a medium must be consulted before work can continue.

An island defined by dramatic landscapes, with volcanoes, geysers, hot springs, lava fields, and elves.

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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; a website dedicated to opening your eyes to the wild & natural world.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

If you enjoy getting social, you can follow their journey on FacebookTwitterYouTubePinterest and Instagram.

Photo credits: Featured header image by TJ Drysdale Photography and Follow Me Away. Solo traveler with truck / Northern lights by Moyan Brenn of TravelBusy.com. White water rafting by Arctic Adventures

    30 Comments

  1. Iceland seems like a hot destination to visit at the moment. Judging from your photos, I can certainly see why. It’s stunning! I would love to visit and would fit right into your fantasy nerds category.

    • It’s definitely becoming a big travel trend to head to Iceland! Pretty much a destination which suits all! Hope you have an amazing trip there!

  2. Iceland is one of those places that make me want to visit more and more, whenever I read about it or see photos. So beautiful! Seems like there’s a good variety of things to do, as well :)

    • I’m glad we could inspire you! Hope you have the chance to visit soon :)

  3. I’m not sure I perfectly fit any of those categories, but I know I’d love to see Iceland. I’m amazed at how different it is from any other place I’ve been. And I’d love to photograph the entire island!

    • A photograhers dream! Perhaps I should have added photographers as a category too :)

  4. so hard to decide what kind of travelers i am. feels like i can select all of them. i love the nature, i want to travel there alone, wildlife and adventure seeker haha finger crossed for my iceland trip next year

    • I think I’m all 5 in 1 too :D Have a fabulous trip to Iceland next year! It’s an epic destination – so excited for you!!

  5. Add 6th category: Drivers! :)
    Driving the Ring Road is one of the ultimate road trips one can take.

    • OMG I can’t believe I left out roadtrippers! Totally agree that this should be a category of it’s own – driving the ring road was one of my favorite highlights over 10 years of travel :)

  6. Everyone seems to be going there at the moment and it is on our bucket list too. It’s just so far away from Australia… I am sure we’ll get there one day. Your photos are amazing. I am a wildlife lover so seeing the whales, puffins and birds would be awesome. And we do love hiking so it seems like the perfect place for us. I’d love to see the Northern lights too one day… But 24 hours of daylight sounds pretty great too so we might have to go twice!

    • It’s a really hot destination at the moment, you’re right, every-one seems to be packing their bags to go!

      I feel you on the long distance travel bit, we’re from Australia too. That said, if you were to choose a destination worthwhile of the long haul trip, Iceland is definitely it. If you’re a nature and wildlife lover, especially, it’s one of the most beautiful and scenically impressive places in the world. We traveled during summer and can’t wait to go back for the Northern lights – definitely needs too trips :D!

  7. I can’t get over how beautiful your pictures are! I want to pack up and go to Iceland RIGHT NOW!

    • People have made worse decisions in their life :D

  8. I have never been to Iceland, but it will surely be a favorite destination of many travelers. It has some of the most beautiful landscapes in the World. I loved that you used to photos of the Follow Me Away blog. I love their beautiful dreamy photos.

    • I’ve never heard a bad word about Iceland – everyone who has traveled has come home with rave reviews :) Aren’t Victoria and Terence’s photos (Follow Me Away) the best! They’re incredible photographers, I love their portfolio of shots :)

  9. I am every type of travelers on the list: solo, nature lover, wildlife adventure, wildlife enthusiast, fantasy nerd. Does that mean Iceland is calling me?????

    • It does indeed :D! Enjoy your trip!!

  10. I hope I get to visit Iceland someday because it looks beautiful. But I am not sure how I would be able to travel around since I am not a fan of driving myself..Any tips?
    x

    • Hi Stephanie, if you’re not a fan of driving there are many tours of Iceland, you can join group bus tours which take in the whole ring road, or you can base yourself in Reykjavik and head out on day tours to see the surrounding sights.

      Tourism is a big industry here and there are lot of options for tours – the great thing is that they’re all fluent in English, and really focused on being environmentally friendly :)

      You’ll have a great time in Iceland, I highly recommend a trip – let me know if you want recommendations on tour companies to join?

  11. incredible photos guys!! what camera are you using? I have always wanted to visit Iceland and heres another reason for me to go :D

    • Thanks Lloyd! The feature photo is by Terence of TJ Drysdale Photography, and then the truck / northern lights photo by Moyan Brenn (links to each photographer’s portfolio in photo credits at end of post). But the rest are our photos, and we use a Nikon D5300 – it’s a great entry level DSLR :)

  12. I’ve seen more than one article point out another type of traveler who visits Iceland these days: the ignorant jerk. Tramples all over nature, expects everyone to bend over backward, gets wasted… I’m so glad you don’t know any of those and that you only highlight the good kind. Give energy where it’s well (de)served.

    • Yes, I’ve heard of this type of traveler also – luckily I didn’t come across any of them on our visit, though there are a lot of tourists to Iceland who do some very stupid things. I think that everywhere in the world gets their fair share of these though.

  13. Yay, great photos and an inspiring post. Honestly, I am not sure if Iceland even needs it anymore. It became such a popular destination that they might end up with too many visitors to handle. Personally, I was eyeing it for years (we fit into all categories you mentioned except “solo traveler” ;) ), but it would mean to buy gear for colder weather (at least, something more substantial than flip-flops and t-shirts) and our bags can’t handle any additional stuff :(

    • You’re right, Iceland has become a pretty trendy destination of late, I hope that it doesn’t become a victim of mass tourism like other parts of the world have, though I think there is a lot of information on how to behave responsibly so our presence as travelers doesn’t have a harming effect. The landscapes might look tough, but are in fact pretty fragile!

      It’s not that cold during the summer months (June and July), so perhaps you could travel then :)

  14. Those pins are incredible! I wanted to pin it immediately without even having read the post lol.

    But I DID read the post, don’t worry! I haven’t been to Iceland yet so I was curious. It sounds like an incredible place full of natural wonders. Renting a cottage sounds so idyllic. I also want to experience the 24 hour sun – although I’m not sure I’d want to camp in those conditions. How would you sleep? Haha!

    • Thanks Francesca! Happy to encourage pinning, appreciate the share!

      Definitely a country with an incredible range of natural wonders – sounds like summer would be the time you should visit if you like the idea of the midnight sun. Lol it does take some getting used to – we had dinner around 2am a couple of nights because we didn’t realize it was so late!! But good black out curtains and maybe even one of those airplane eye masks will do the trick :)

  15. Thanks, loved the article. Looking forward to an Iceland trip! I love nature and can also be a wildlife and adventure seeker. From all the pictures that I have seen, i’m sure the experience would be breathtaking. To take advantage of the summer months and midnight sun, I will have to look at next June/July.

    • You’ll have an amazing time as a wildlife and nature enthusiast David – truly is just a different universe in terms of the surreal landscapes and exotic creatures – like having jumped into a fairytale land or storybook – pardon the cliches!!

      Can highly recommend summer months – we travelled in June and literally had 24 hours of sunlight, you really can make the most out of every single day it’s amazing :)

      Have a fabulous trip!! Thanks for your comment :)

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