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Adventures in Iceland

Ten of My Favorite Places



Iceland’s Leading Travel Expert, 

Ása Steinars

Instagram: @asasteinars

@vanlife_iceland


My Life In Iceland


 I live in the Northernmost capital of the world, Reykjavík. It’s a cute, vibrant little city with cafés and culture. It also offers fantastic opportunities to witness the mesmerizing Northern Lights. Head out of the town to escape light pollution, or join a guided tour to prime viewing spots for this natural phenomenon. Be sure to check the forecast and plan your outing on a clear, dark night for the best chance of seeing the auroras dance across the sky. Here are a few of my recommendations in and around Reykjavík.



Ice Caves


You don’t want to spend all of your holiday in the city. You can visit ice caves only a day's trip from the city. There are a few to pick from, but one of my favorites is Katla Ice Cave near Iceland's Katla volcano. It is a breathtaking sight. Its blue ice formations, shaped over centuries, create a magical atmosphere. Exploring the cave feels like stepping into a peaceful and beautiful world. It’s unique because you can visit it all year round.


Hot Springs + Wellness


Iceland isn’t all about being active. It’s also a perfect place for wellness and relaxation. Due to Iceland's volcanic activity, we have a lot of geothermal activity, hot water, and springs. I recommend a day trip out of the city to hike around Reykjadalur's hot spring. The trail takes you through beautiful scenery with hills, geothermal areas, and streams. When you reach Reykjadalur, you can relax in the warm hot springs while enjoying the mountain views. It's a great way to unwind and enjoy nature's beauty. The hike starts from the small town of Hveragerði, a 30-minute drive from Reykjavík. If you’re not keen to hike, you can visit other hot springs, like Secret Lagoon, Laugarvatn Fontana, or Sky Lagoon. 


Go Whale Watching


Join a whale-watching tour from Reykjavik or other coastal towns to see majestic marine mammals such as humpback whales, orcas, and dolphins in their natural habitat. The tours leave from the city harbor in Reykjavík, so you can see both whales and puffins straight from downtown, which is very convenient. I love seeing the whales active in the bay outside the city. 



Visit Vestmannaeyjar islands


Visiting the Vestmannaeyjar Islands, or Westman Islands, is a fantastic adventure. These volcanic islands off Iceland's southern coast are known for their dramatic landscapes and rich wildlife. Hike to the top of Eldfell volcano for stunning views, visit the Eldheimar Museum to learn about the 1973 eruption, and spot puffins along the rugged cliffs. Enjoy leisurely walks, relax on black sand beaches, and explore charming fishing villages. It's a perfect getaway for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike.



Rent a Campervan 


With a campervan, you can travel at your own pace, stopping wherever you please to soak in the beauty of Iceland's natural wonders. It’s my favorite way to see our country, and you feel so close to nature. You can pick from incredible campsites close to waterfalls. Then, when a spectacular sunset is popping, you never miss out. My love of driving around Iceland in my campervan resulted in me founding my company, Vanlife Iceland, which takes like-minded travelers on the perfect summer road trip. 


Here’s my Shortlist

Ten of My Favorite Places and Things to Do in Iceland


  1. Thakgil 


The best part about Thakgil is the drive in there. It is a bumpy and winding road with some of the most incredible views in Iceland. It takes about an hour, and you’ll see river braids, vast black sand plains and sharp mountains along the way. At the end of the road, you’ll reach Thakgil, a lush green campsite surrounded by




steep mountains in all directions. You can find many hikes from here, and don’t miss a morning dip in the ice-cold glacial river!


  1. Borgarfjörður Eystri 


This is the best place in Iceland to spot a puffin and a real hidden gem. They spend most of the year at sea but come to land from May to August. They live in holes in the cliffs close to the ocean. Borgarfjörður Eystri has built a platform so you can get really close to them. The best time of day to visit is just before sunset when they all come back from fishing in the ocean.


  1. Studlagil 


This incredible canyon was found in 2016 by a local sheep farmer. A turquoise-blue river flows between black basalt columns. I love to come here on a rainy day because the rocks become really dark, creating an incredible contrast with the water. But it’s, of course, really nice on a sunny day as well, when you can take a dip in the ice-cold river.



  1. Reykjadalur Hot Spring 


Before tourism started in Iceland, I came here once a week, and most days, I would be all alone. It’s the perfect weekend activity, just outside of Reykjavik. Hike for about an hour up a valley, and you reach a warm river. The higher you go, the warmer it gets. So just pick where you’re comfortable and enjoy!


  1. Vestmannaeyjar 


Tourists often overlook the Westman Islands because you need to take a ferry to get there. This volcanic island is perfect for a weekend getaway. The best time to visit is summer. There are lots of hikes with stunning views. Once a year, the Westman Islands host Iceland's biggest music festival.


  1. Kerlingarfjöll 

If you ever wondered how it would be to walk on Mars, then Kerlingarfjöll might be where you would find the answer. This geothermal area is a very surreal experience. The orange landscape combined with steam clouds is like nothing else. It’s located deep in

the Icelandic highlands. It's only accessible in summer, and you need a 4x4 vehicle to get there.


  1. Whale Watching


I love whales, and the fjords around Iceland are filled with them in summer. I recommend going out on a calm day with little wind when you have the best chance to see them.



8. Stokksnes


There might not be a more beautiful black beach in the world. Stokksnes is a large black beach with a very sharp mountain range behind it that glows pink at sunset. Often, the beach overflows, reflecting the mountains. It’s a photographer's paradise with endless angles to shoot. Sometimes, I spend days here, trying to capture it all.


9. Flateyri


If there’s one place outside Reykjavik where I’d like to live, it’s Flateyri. It’s one of the most remote fjords in Iceland, and it’s absolutely stunning. Surrounded by steep, flat-topped mountains, the ocean meets the mountains, complete with white sandy beaches. 



10. Vatnajökull Glacier


If you are visiting Iceland, I highly recommend going on a glacier adventure. What makes the glaciers here so unique is that they go almost all the way down to the main road. So you don’t need to walk far to reach them, and there are so many activities. In winter, you can visit the ice caves; in summer, you can go on a glacier hike or try ice climbing. Or perhaps try kayaking between icebergs in the glacier lagoon.


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My Wellness Advice


Prioritize sleep as much as you prioritize adventure; getting a full night's sleep is essential to overall wellness and gives you the energy to live your life to the fullest. I also believe in the healing powers of being out in nature. Simply being outdoors, surrounded by fresh air, the ocean, and mountains, can have a calming effect on our minds and bodies. Nature's sights, sounds, and scents can help us feel more grounded and connected to the world around us, easing tension and anxiety. When I’m feeling stressed, it’s nothing that Icelandic nature can’t fix. 


Great Life Lessons


  1. One of the most impactful pieces of advice I've received is to focus on progress, not perfection. This reminds me that it's okay to make mistakes and encounter setbacks as long as I continuously learn and grow. Instead of striving for flawless outcomes, I aim to celebrate small victories and embrace the journey of improvement. This mindset shift has helped me approach challenges with greater resilience, creativity, and self-compassion, ultimately leading to more fulfilling experiences and achievements. As a creator, I can’t be too hard on myself. Otherwise, you end up not publishing your work. 



  1. One of the greatest lessons is that when one door closes, usually two new ones will open up. It has taught me to deal with failure. When things come to an end or fail, it’s usually an opportunity for a new beginning—an opportunity to continue learning and evolving.



  1. This journey has taught me the power of following one's dreams and embracing new opportunities with courage and determination. Through dedication and perseverance, I've turned my passion into a successful career and created a life filled with creativity, adventure, and meaningful connections.


Off The Beaten Path


Get off the beaten path and talk to the locals. The crowded spots are popular for a reason. Still, nothing beats drinking tea with a local in Oman, eating from a street vendor in India, or Couchsurfing in Iran and experiencing the hospitality of the Middle Eastern people. Traveling is getting to know the place at its core and understanding the culture and the people. 


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I've spent the past six years fully immersed in photography, traveling across Iceland as a professional photographer. Quitting my job in 2017 allowed me to pursue this passion full-time. With this experience, I've become an expert in discovering Iceland's most stunning locations and capturing their beauty through my lens, growing to more than 2 million followers. 


 I started Vanlife Iceland and Vanlife Norway, two companies that allow me to share my love for travel—establishing Katla Creative as my production company enabled me to bring creative ideas to life.





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