Iceland is one of the most beautiful countries in the world — but the beauty is wild and harsh and unwelcoming. You can see this in its southern coastal Reykjanes peninsula, with its sharp volcanic rock formations and angry waves. But if you visit, you’ll have some of the best photos you’ve ever taken.
Stop first at Midlina, the “Bridge Between Continents” that joins the Eurasian tectonic plate with the North American one. Midlina may just be a footbridge over a small valley, but the science behind the bridge and the moody, alien fields of lava that surround it will capture your imagination.
Take a detour to stretch your legs on a walk along the sea cliffs at Hafnarborg. Keep an eye peeled for birds flocking here.
Next, go to Gunnuhver hot springs. Despite the name, the pools at Gunnuhver are actually mud, with steam bubbling up through the mud. Keep to the wooden paths because the steam is scalding. In the distance, you’ll see Reykjanesviti lighthouse — Iceland’s oldest.
Then it’s on to another set of sea cliffs at Brimketill. There’s a viewing platform here where you can see waves crashing into the cliffs and collecting in a pool. The waves sometimes come a bit too close for comfort, so be careful!
Finally, head to Viking World, a museum that houses an exact replica of a 22.5-meter, 32-oar Viking ship. The original ship was probably built about 870, around the time the Vikings settled in Iceland. It’s an awesome sign of the kind of people who settled in this harsh but beautiful land. (T)