Among all the Scandinavian countries, Iceland is perhaps among the most romanticised by tourists. In fact, despite the fact that international travel has been quite slow, Iceland has reported a doubling in the number of tourists.
By some accounts, the number of tourists in some towns even exceeds those of the locals. But who can blame tourists for flocking to Iceland?
Globally, Iceland is known for its peaceful people, low crime rate, and lush flora and fauna. But perhaps, above all else, Iceland is known for its breathtaking fjords. Created naturally during the Ice Age, the 109 Icelandic fjords number are divided across the country.
Because they’re not clustered in any one location, these fjords display unique geographical features that make each one worthy of a visit. Since fjords are located next to some of the most stunning towns and natural wonders, here are some of the best ways to enjoy them:
I - Join an Icelandic cruise
Since fjords open up to the ocean, one of the most seamless ways to access them is via specialised cruises. As shown on Explora, premium cruise packages have made fjord-hopping easier by creating itineraries that take visitors to different stops across the country.
For example, the inaugural Iceland & Greenland cruise trip includes visits to Akureyri and the capital Reykjavik, which are located in and near fjords, respectively.
Most notably, the great fjord Hvalfjörður is a breathtaking stop that almost joins the two locations. In this fjord, you can also see Iceland’s second tallest waterfalls.
As an added bonus, if you visit these fjords through a cruise ship, you can also easily partake in other activities like horseback riding, exploring glaciers on snow scooters, and zipping through lava tunnels without the hassle of individually booking these yourself.
II - Go Hiking accros the mountains
While most people associate fjords with water-related activities, the mountains surrounding them shouldn’t be overlooked. On these sprawling cliff faces, visitors often get the best views of the fjords they wrap around.
The eastern region of Iceland, in particular, has some stunning hiking routes that can take you from one fjord to another. For instance, visitors can hike from the Borgarfjörður Eystri fjord to the Loðmundarfjörður fjord by following the popular Víknaslóðir path.
On this route, you’ll also see the acclaimed Stórurð which is described as an oasis of azure waters and rock formations.
If you’d like, you can even first get to East Iceland via road trip before embarking on your hike to see the fjords.
Just remember that the mountains in this region can be more challenging than their flat-topped neighbours, so it may not be the most suitable for all ages.
III - Embark on a rugged road trip
Considered one of the most remote areas of Iceland, the Westfjords were once a hard-to-access destination. In fact, only about 7% of all visitors to the country ever make it to this area.
Recently, though, National Geographic shared the unveiling of the Westfjords Way. Whereas previously visitors had to drive through mountain passes (that were often made inaccessible by snowstorms), now visitors can simply complete a loop through the Dýrafjardargöng Tunnel.
That said, it does still take about three hours to get to the town proper, which is why it makes for a glorious road trip.
During your drive, you can see rolling grasslands, playful creatures, and steep mountain ridges that are unique to the Westfjords.
Best of all, by driving there you can also get up close and personal with the fjords at the Hornstrandir nature reserve or the waterfall-accented Arnarfjörður fjord.
IV - Take an island-bound ferry
In Northern Iceland, there are two large fjords among a few smaller ones. These larger fjords are called Skagfjöfður and Eyjafjörður. Translated, their names mean “spit fjord” and “island fjord”. Because these fjords are so big, there are actually islands within each fjord.
Eyjafjörður, which is the longest fjords in Iceland, is even a popular destination for its wildlife and island townships like Hrisey. The shallow and ice-free waters surrounding these towns are rich in nutrients which makes them popular with many different species of whales that lucky visitors can observe.
To visit these island towns within the fjord, you can take a ferry that will easily take you across the cool waters. The trip is usually fairly quick and much smoother than if you were to commandeer a boat yourself.
Undoubtedly, Iceland and its fjords are incomparable to any other place on earth. As a country with a culture deeply rooted in nature, this is one Scandinavian country that you have to see and experience first-hand.
For more about Iceland and other travels, please visit the rest of the blog at The Bare Traveller.