I was first introduced to the stunning beauty of Iceland, when I was lucky enough to go on a travel agents educational trip. I must admit I was more than a little excited as it was a country I had longed to go to. I think it’s fair to say I was more than a little intrigued to see if it would live up to my expectations. I am pleased to say it did and I fell in love with both the country and it‘s very friendly people. One of the first things I learnt was how the people will often go above and beyond to make you feel at home. So here are just 5 of the accessible fun and amazing things you can do on a visit to the beautiful country of Iceland. Believe me this is just the tip of the Iceberg (forgive the pun).
The Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon is usually either the first or the last pace most tourists visit on a trip to Iceland as it is just 15 minutes from Keflavik Airport. If you are expecting a beautiful rural lagoon scene, I am sorry you will be sorely disappointed as the reality is it looks quite industrial. However as a spa experience it is second to none and well worth visiting. There is a very modern Visitor Centre, with very clean changing rooms. I was impressed that the wheelchair accessible changing room was spacious, and had both a roll in wet room shower with a shower seat and a changing table that is suitable for adults .
There is both a shallow step access into the lagoon and a wheelchair ramp access into it too. I was impressed to find that the Blue Lagoon has thoughtfully provided an amphibious wheelchair as well. Once into the lagoon the real experience begins. The water is provided from the geothermal springs that you find all over Iceland and it is just like being in a wonderfully hot bath, with temperatures between 102 and 115 degrees Fahrenheit. If you are feeling very decadent you can hunt around the lagoon and in small pockets you can find grey volcanic mud, the silica in this mud is supposed to be very good for your skin and I am told is excellent for psoriasis and eczema but Please don’t take my word for it, consult with your doctor.
You can enjoy a cocktail Whilst enjoying your soak, but as with all alcohol in Iceland it is very expensive. Should you have the time you can also book a range of spa treatments, though I was happy to float around the lagoon. At the end of your visit there is the obligatory gift shop, there are toilets and accessible toilets to be found in the visitor centre and a very decent restaurant however I I did not have time to sample it as my visit was reasonably short due to a packed schedule, but it is on my to do list on my next visit.
Reykjavik is the capital city of Iceland and probably the most likely place that you will stay and use as your base. The city is a relatively small town compared to other capital cities but don’t let that fool you it is still a city worth exploring. One of my favourite buildings in Reykjavik is the Hallsgrimskirkja Church. The church is named after the 17th-century clergyman Hallgrímur Pétursson and it’s impressive modernist facade is supposed to reflect the Icelandic scenery.
It certainly took my breath away when I saw it. The interior of the church is just as beautiful as it’s exterior. It’s interior is lofty and very bright with a white vaulted ceilings and columns that seem to reach the heavens. The church is both a parish church and also the national church. However for me the highlight of the church is it’s spectacular organ that when it is played fill the church with sound. The church is wheelchair accessible and it is nice to see how this church is not just a landmark but very much part of the Reykjavik community.
One of the best ways to see the stunning Icelandic scenery is on a Golden Circle Tour, we used Iceland Unlimited who do accessible tours with specially adapted minibuses, but if you some mobility you can do the tour in one of their oversized 4x 4 vehicles, but be warned there is a bit of a climb if you take that option. However as I found out it is good fun when you have 3 strapping Icelandic men give you a hand and lift you in. One of the highlights of the tour is to see the geysers. The car park is across the road from the geysers and there is a visitor centre with gift shop, cafe and toilets including an accessible toilet.
Strokkur Geyser is one of the most impressive and most reliable geysers in the world, erupting every 5 to 10 minutes. It is possible to see Strokkur erupting from the car park, but in all honesty you would not get its full majesty and effect. It is relatively easy to go around the site as it has a wheelchair accessible path. The path does take you quite close to Strokkur but you will also see some smaller geysers as well.
Another highlight of the Golden Circle that is guaranteed to take your is the beautiful and spectacular Gulfoss Falls these falls are pretty spectacular and can be seen from the lower level however there is a pretty steep climb, which is quite slippery and not wheelchair accessible to see them from the higher viewing level. Iceland does have other spectacular waterfalls such as Seljandfoss, which is a 200 feet high narrow cascade just a 2 hour drive from Reykjavik and is much more accessible to wheelchair users and allows you to get much closer than Gulfoss. Both these spectacular waterfall will give you lots of opportunity to take some spectacular Instagrammable shots to make your friends jealous.
Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)
One of the things every tourist in Winter hopes to see are the Northern Lights. They certainly are beautiful and yet so fleeting. On my visit to Iceland we were disappointed on a few nights as the weather stopped us seeing them.
But on our last night myself and a colleague happened to be walking to a reception when all of a sudden we got a clear sky and out of the blue they appeared, we just stood in awe as the lights danced across the sky and just as quickly as they appeared they disappeared again. When we arrived late at the reception the host asked us why we were late we told him and he was very understanding, our colleagues were quite jealous.
If you want to see this wonder natural light show, the best time to visit Iceland is between September and March. I think it is fair to say I fell in love with Iceland, its spectacular scenery, it‘s friendly people and its culture. In this article I hope I have given you a taste of this beautiful country and whilst I recognise this article just scratches the surface I hope it inspires you to think about visiting Iceland for yourself.