If you feel like your Instagram feed has become one big ad for Iceland, you’re not alone.
Iceland is definitely having a moment — and it’s only getting started.
Iceland made our list of top 50 places to travel in 2017, and Reykjavik in particular was just named the second most popular destination by travel search engine Kayak’s annual Travel Hacker Guide, as it has seen a 77% increase in KAYAK searches over the past year.
From icy glaciers to volcanic deserts, here’s why you should make Iceland number one on your bucket list this year.
In 2015, Iceland saw 1,289,140 foreign visitors — an especially stunning number considering that only around 330,000 people actually live on the frosty island.
Many of these visitors came to see the Northern Lights, which are one of the most iconic things to see in Iceland.
The ION Luxury Adventure Hotel in Iceland’s Golden Circle was designed for optimal Aurora Borealis viewing.
Of course, no trip to Iceland would be complete without visiting the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa that boasts healing waters. In fact, the Blue Lagoon is Iceland’s most visited attraction.
However, the recent influx of tourists is also being attributed to «The Game of Thrones effect.» Vik has seen a 78% increase in visitors since it was featured on the hit show.
But Vik is just one example of Iceland’s many dramatic black sand beaches.
This year also marks the opening of LAVA, a state-of-the-art museum in Hvolsvöllur that focuses on volcanoes and earthquakes. It will feature an earthquake simulator, a cinema, and a viewing platform that overlooks three volcanoes; Eyjafjallajökull, Katla and Hekla.
The small country (it’s about the size of Kentucky) is big on vistas — most of the island is a treeless moonscape of vast craters and volcanoes….
… and waterfalls — there are thousands of waterfalls throughout the country.
Skógafoss is one of the largest. Some say there’s treasure hidden behind it.
Iceland is also home to one of the world’s most epic road trips — the 830-mile-long Ring Road, which circles the entire island.
Ring Road is the best way to see as much of Iceland’s alien-like landscape as possible….
…like the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, which can be explored by boat.
Its stunning black sand beaches make for killer photos.
In Hverir, you can walk around a giant geothermal field.
And in SIlfra, you can scuba dive between two continents.
You can also go inside the «Crystal Caves» of Vatnajökull Glacier. These stunning caves are formed by rivers of meltwater, and generally only accessible in the winter.
The small island is nothing if not multifaceted — it has glaciers and deserts living together in harmony, like the volcanic desert of Landmannalaugar that you can hike across.
It’s even home to a rare breed of Icelandic horse.
Its colorful capital city of Reykjavik looks looks like it’s straight out of a fairytale.
Not convinced yet? Iceland’s WOW Air is selling $69 tickets from the US to Iceland — and even claims that the flights could be free one day.