Natural Wonders of Iceland

Besides seeing great architecture in the various attractions along the Lofoten Tourist Route, the Hamsunsenteret, and in Reykjavik, a great portion of my trip up North was to get back to nature. Lofoten was the primer for this, and Iceland delivered the knockout punch – it’s otherworldly beautiful (yet familiar if you’re a Sci-fi buff like me). During my time in Iceland, I rented a car to explore both the Golden Circle and the Southern Coast. Chasing waterfalls, finding shooting geysers, straddling two continental plates, and a relaxing dip in a natural thermal pool (I skipped Blue Lagoon for this one) re-energized, relaxed, and de-stressed. Plus, I’ll probably be doing some painting of the sights I saw in Iceland. So, what did I see?

Gullfoss – Golden Circle

Gullfoss is one of the most well known waterfalls in Iceland – and for good reason. It’s breathtaking, and yes I may have been breaking the rules a little when taking this shot. I couldn’t help myself. I can’t think of any other waterfall I’ve seen (with my own eyes) outside of Yellowstone that rivals the beauty of Gullfoss.

Geysir – Golden Circle

While fascinating to see, Geysir was somewhat of a letdown for me. I was expecting something more Yellowstone versus roadside attraction (which is what the layout of Geysir felt like). It did have its namesake though, which is always cool.

Þingvellir National Park – Golden Circle

A part where two continental plates meet and loaded with history, a visit to Þingvellir was right up my alley. This park is where Iceland started, and even convened its legislature. Waterfalls, lakes, and continental rifts abound here and it’s pretty amazing to see in person. Just the enormity of a chasm between the two plates gets you thinking about how we’re all really surfing on lava.

Mosfellskirkja – Ragnar Emilsson (directly off Golden Circle route)

An article in Dezeen had come out a few weeks prior focusing on Iceland’s Modernist churches. This particular one has a triangular section and plan…and happened to be in said article and right off the route leading to the Golden Circle. I wish I would have been able to get in to see the interior, but the triangle works well and leads to stunning views of the building.

The second day outside of Reykjavik, I decided to explore the Southern Coast of Iceland. I highly recommend this as it was peaceful, the funny proportioned Icelandic horses are everywhere, and it has tons of waterfalls feeding into the North Atlantic.

Skogafoss – Southern Coast

Climbing to the top viewpoint of Skogafoss was a bit challenging for a bigger guy like myself, but it was definitely worth it. A larger drop than Gullfoss made for a louder, more mesmerizing waterfall. The highlands above the waterfall are also very beautiful, and the landscape quite eerie due to the lack of trees.

Seljavellalaug – Southern Coast

The next stop was solely to relax and soak in one of Iceland’s first thermal pools since I had decided to skip Blue Lagoon. It didn’t disappoint and was well worth the 30 minute hike to get to the pool. It’s very bare bones, and naturally fed, and I’m fairly certain there is still black sand on the swim trunks I used to this day.

Seljalandsfoss – Southern Coast

The last place I visited, Seljalandsfoss seemed weaker than the previous waterfalls I had seen on the trip – until I saw that you can walk behind it! This made it so cool, if not a bit dangerous for someone with a hearing aid that is susceptible to moisture damage, but hey live life on the edge right? Behind the falls is quite stunning, and all the views I took in over two days of driving were worth Icelandic radio’s obsession with Robyn and the guy that covers Robyn songs.

Next time on the blog – the architecture in Reykjavik, especially Harpa and Hallgrimskirkja.



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Josh Mings

Architect and painter. Columbus, IN born, New Orleans educated, Chicago living and trying to leave the world better than I found it.