It’s not hard to see why National Geographic named the healing, tranquil waters of the Blue Lagoon one of the top 25 wonders in the world, or why in recent years it has become the most popular attraction in Iceland.
On the way to this relaxing destination, however, the day will begin with a drive through Reykjavík, for some views of the city’s landmarks, including the domed-glass Perlan, known as the Pearl, and the more recently built concert and conference centre of Harpa. Then, leaving Reykjavik behind, the ride will continue through the lava fields of the Reykjanes peninsula to the Blue Lagoon, located amidst a beautiful lava field, seemingly in the middle of nowhere in an otherworldly landscape.
The Blue Lagoon owes its existence to a nearby geothermal power plant that makes use of geothermal seawater replenished every 40 hours from a mile beneath the earth’s surface. The water is warm, mineral rich and is known to soothe and rejuvenate the skin. The aquamarine colour of the water, the steam and the lava landscape surrounding the Lagoon combine to create a unique and memorable atmosphere.
The facilities at the Blue Lagoon include a tax-free shop – with a range of mineral-rich Blue Lagoon skin products – a café and restaurant, and excellent changing-room facilities. The Blue Lagoon spa is completely powered by clean geothermal energy and is environmentally certified.
With less than 120,000 inhabitants to its name, Reykjavík is certainly one of the smaller capital cities in the world, but it is also one of the most stimulating. This sightseeing tour will take you on a journey to some of its most noteworthy sites, beginning with Laugardalur Valley, the city’s main sports and recreational area, where the Olympic sized open-air swimming pool is filled with geothermal water.
The Árbær open-air museum boasts more than 20 historic buildings, most of which have been relocated from central Reykjavik to form a town square, a village and a farm, making it a pleasant place to enjoy a walk. The museum was founded due to growing concern that “old Reykjavik” was disappearing forever, prompting the city council to create this public park.
After the Árbær Museum we will move onwards to one of the city’s most architecturally interesting buildings, Perlan (“The Pearl”) which features a huge dome of reflecting glass panels on a hollow steel frame. Perlan has a viewing platform on top of its hot-water tanks that extends full circle, offering splendid views over the city.
The National Museum is dedicated to preserving Iceland’s cultural heritage from the time of its pioneering settlement right up to the present day. From here we will drive to the old quarter of Reykjavík to see some of its charming colourful houses, on our way to Hallgrímskirkja Church, one of the city’s most recognised landmarks.
This full day journey begins with a drive across the ancient undulating lava fields of Mosfellsheið on the way to one of Iceland’s top attractions, the UNESCO World Heritage site of Thingvellir National Park, situated in a rift valley with incredible views of the Reykjanes Ridge. Thingvellir is the only place in the world where any part of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, separating the Eurasian and North American plates, is above sea-level.
As well as being geologically important, Thingvellir is also where some of the country’s most important historical events have unfolded, making it a sacred place to the people of Iceland. This was where the settlers of Iceland first became a unified nation when its legislative parliament, the Althing, was founded there in the year 930.
In a country renowned for its numerous waterfalls, the Gullfoss Waterfall, or “Golden Waterfall”, is certainly the most famous. Here, a huge amount of water can be seen cascading down the rocks into a deep ravine, creating a powerful spectacle.
Finally, the last of the “big three” attractions of the day will be the Geysir geothermal area, from where the word “geyser” originates. Strokkur is an explosive geyser that erupts every few minutes and is another of Iceland’s world famous landmarks.
Then finally, back in Reykjavík, there will just be time for one last stop at the Perlan, or the Pearl, which has a viewing deck offering great panoramic views over Reykjavik, perfect for taking photos or just relaxing and enjoying the view.
Please note: this optional excursion can be booked using the signup sheet and paid for on-board the ship (all prices for purchases on-board Aegean Odyssey are listed in US dollars).