Iceland has long relied on income from the travel industry, which contributes more than 5 per cent of its GDP. It has noted the need to develop a more consistent and integrated approach to tourism and is being rewarded with significant annual increases in visitor numbers that crossed 1 million for the first time last year.
In May 2012 Promot Iceland commissioned PKF International to implement a major mapping project for the Icelandic tourism industry and to establish its FDI potential. It had the following objectives:
To increase the profitability of the tourism industry in Iceland
Engaging in the systematic development of tourist destinations and effective product development, promotion and advertising work to provide an opportunity to prolong the tourist season and reduce seasonal fluctuations and encourage tourists to travel across the country.
Enhancing the quality, professionalism, safety and environmental awareness of the tourism sector.
Innovative ways for a very complex tourism industry in Iceland
In order to study the tourism industry, several steps were taken, including:
Conduct a limited survey of international tour operators to build on existing travel surveys
Top 10 tourist attractions in Iceland
It is very difficult to shortlist only 10 must-see attractions in Iceland. However, this list contains the top 10 attractions that are guaranteed to blow your mind!
The blue lake and the best tourist attractions in Iceland
Milky blue water in the blue lagoon. The milky blue groundwater of the Blue Lagoon. The Blue Lake is a large geothermal pool, located on the Reykjanes Peninsula in the southwestern part of Iceland. The pool is not a natural source of geothermal water, it is actually supplied by excess water from a nearby power plant called Svartsengi.
The Blue Lake appeared in 1974, when excess water was released from the power plant in Svartsingi. The lake soon became a popular spot for swimming and bathing but there were no facilities at all near the lake until 1987.
Water is rich in minerals, especially sulfur and silica, which are supposed to be beneficial for your skin. This explains the lake’s popularity in its early years.
The facilities at the Blue Lagoon underwent a major renovation in 1992 and in recent years have gained a reputation as a global tourist attraction. In 2016, bathing at the Blue Lagoon became the most popular thing topping on the travel lists of millennials around the world. The pyramids of Giza came in second place!
If you want to go to the Blue Lagoon, you should schedule your visit in advance. You can book your entry ticket here.
Gullfoss Waterfall in snowy surroundings – Gullfoss during the winter
The Golden Circle is a route between three major attractions: Geysir, Gullfoss Waterfall, and Thingvellir National Park. It takes a day or less to do the entire tour and it is within easy reach of the capital. The track is approximately 300 kilometers (190 miles) long with a car driving distance from Reykjavik.
You can either drive the Golden Circle Trail on your own or embark on an organized tour. Here is a list of some great guided tours:
Golden Circle Hop-up / Hop-off Tour
Glorious Golden Circle Tour
Classic golden bus tour
Afternoon tour of the Golden Circle
Midnight Sun Golden Circle Tour
Some of these tour companies offer all kinds of variations and additions to the classic Golden Circle tour, for example The Golden Circle, Fontana Wellnes Tour, Golden Circle, The Secret Lagoon, Golden Circle, Snorkeling in Silfra etc.
The advantages of a self-driving tour are that you can plan the tour according to your needs. There are a lot of interesting sites in the area and some decent restaurants too. Self-driving is also a good option for those who are spontaneous and want to let their curiosity control their itinerary.
Sólheimasandur plane wreck in the southern part of Iceland. This famous plane wreck is located on Sólheimasandur, the black sands of the southern shore.
The southern beach of Iceland is very beautiful and therefore attracts many visitors. Many of Iceland’s most beautiful attractions are located on the southern shore. Reynisfjara Black Beach, Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, Skógafoss Waterfall, Sólheimasandur plane wreck and more.
A drive along the south shore from Reykjavik can be done in a day, but it’s easily possible to explore the area at a slower pace. If you want to drive your own car. If you prefer to go on organized trips, check these out:
South Jewels – Minibus Daily Tour
The South Coast and the Northern Lights
The Classic South Coast Tour: Guided in 10 Languages
South Coast and Glacier Tour