The Curious Landscapes of Iceland


My dad asked me when I told him I was going to Iceland, “What’s there to see? Isn’t it just (pause) ice?” He’s got a point. The country does have ‘ice’ in the name.

I always think that Iceland is the most mis-named country in the whole world. I’m sure that in winter there’s plenty of ice. But in the summer, it’s a different world here.

In summertime Iceland is a world of lush green hills, more waterfalls than you can count, Martian terrain, black sand beaches, and yes, even ice!

MORE: Iceland’s Golden Circle

For such a small island, the varieties in landscape is astounding. It was one of the things that struck me most about Iceland.

What kind of other landscapes does Iceland have, you ask?

For example, the Ring Road along the West Coast between Reykjavik and Rif revealed green hills, green fields, and waterfalls streaming down mountainsides.

Colorful Námaskarð near Myvatn in the North reminded us a bit of Yellowstone.

Námaskarð is a geothermal field with stinky, steaming vents (fumarole if you want to get all scientific), spitting mud pots, and other telltale signs of not-too-far-down volcanic activity.

Somewhere south along the Ring Road near Vatnajökull Glacier, we drove pass the most peculiar landscape. In this endless tree-less landscape, the ground was covered by bowling sized rocks that were in turn totally, completely covered in a thick carpet of green moss.

Have you seen anything like it? We definitely haven’t. Of course we had to stop.

This is when we discovered that
1. They make the most horrible trip hazards. So even though it looks super soft and fluffy and inviting to frolic, don’t!
2. Even though the moss is inches high in some place, falling down on them is still quite painful.

Across the road from the popular Glacier Lagoon (Jokulsarlon Lagoon) we saw giant icebergs floating by on its way from the lagoon to the open sea. Some of them ended up on this short stretch of black sand beach.

One of the images coming from Iceland that has stuck with me the longest is of stranded icebergs on a black sand beach. I’m glad I got to see them in person. I thought they were so pretty.

Curiously enough, the beach is also covered by hundreds of dead fish.

Reynisfjara Beach near Vik in the South Coast is famous for its stretch of black sand beach as well as its unusual rock formations. From hexagonal basalt columns that Jack just had to climb…

to something completely wacky and weird.

Isn’t Iceland something? Every new day on the road brings a fresh and unique landscape. Iceland is definitely one of our favorite roadtrip destinations. We couldn’t have enough.

What is your favorite roadtrip destination?

Thanks to Camping Iceland for providing us with everything we needed for an awesome Iceland roadtrip adventure.

Valuable Resources

  • Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders, for those who love anything weird and offbeat.
  • Resource Toolbox: How I find cheap flights, accommodations, and other travel hacks.

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2 Replies to “The Curious Landscapes of Iceland”

  1. From a photography and road tripping perspective, Iceland is probably at the top of my list of places I would love to visit and explore. All I hear from other travelers is just how impossibly beautiful the countryside and landscapes there are and I’ve yet to see a photo to dispel this notion. I LOVED your photo of the icebergs on the beach; I can only imagine how pretty that was to see in person. Thanks for taking us along on your adventure through this weird and wonderful country and I hope I get to see it with my own eyes one day!

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