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7 Reasons Why Americans Are Flocking To This Unique Nordic Destination

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Spend even just a few minutes looking through a travel guide or searching online for images of Iceland, and it’s easy to see why it is one of Europe’s most popular destinations.

This northern Nordic nation has been capturing the imaginations of travelers around the world in recent times, and no more so than in the United States.

Recent data from the Icelandic Tourist Board shows that American travelers accounted for almost 30% of Iceland’s incoming tourism in 2023, the highest out of any country and a significant increase on the previous year. 

traveler standing by a river in the beautiful Studlagil Canyon in iceland

So, just what is it about ‘the Land of Fire and Ice’ that is attracting American travelers in their droves right now?

One Of The World’s Safest Countries

If there’s one thing Iceland is more famous for than its glaciers, volcanoes, and beautiful scenery, it’s for being a very safe country.

It consistently ranks as one of the safest in the world, according to the Global Peace Index and U.S. State Department.

Crime rates are extremely low here, and in all honesty, the main safety considerations you need to be aware of have to do with Mother Nature and not human beings. 

sunrise over reykjavik in iceland with the hallgrimskirkja church in view

Ideal For Solo Travelers

Many aspects of Iceland make it a haven for solo travelers.

The excellent safety record mentioned above is combined with a country where English is fairly widely spoken, and people are generally friendly and welcoming.

There are also many hostels if you’re the kind of solo traveler who likes to make friends, while many of the activities and attractions here are great if you prefer solitude – gazing out onto majestic glaciers, anyone?

solo female traveler admires views from a 4x4 while driving in iceland

Unique Scenery And Landscapes

Perhaps the main reason to visit Iceland is for the unique landscapes and geological phenomena that make up this amazing island. 

Made up of dramatic mountain ranges, volcanic fields, huge glaciers, and countless hot geysers and springs – Iceland leaves a long-lasting impression on almost all who visit it. 

In many cases, it can feel like you’re visiting another planet, not just another country. 

The country is also relatively small, so it’s easy to get around and see different parts of it, but it’s usually best to do this on guided tours, especially in the colder months when heavy snow can make driving very challenging. 

Great Chance To See The Northern Lights

The year 2024 might see some of the best auroras in the past 20 years thanks to the cycles of our sun and the solar system.

And Iceland is probably one of the best places to witness this spectacle thanks to its extreme northern location and longer nights in the winter months. 

northern lights over kirkjufell mountain in iceland

Usually, the best time to see the Northern Lights in Iceland is from September to March, so if you act fast, you may still be able to catch some of that early spring action.

Fascinating Culture And People

While they can sometimes seem a little reserved at first, Icelandic people are kind-hearted and friendly in general.

The family unit is hugely important to Icelandic people and there are many national holidays that celebrate the different aspects of it, such as Men’s Day and Women’s Day.

Stykkisholmur colorful icelandic houses.

Food is another charming part of Iceland’s culture with popular dishes including fresh fish, smoked lamb, and also a type of yoghurt known as skyr. 

Cheap To Fly To

There’s no escaping that Iceland is quite an expensive country to visit; however, you can save a lot on the flight if you shop around.

We recently revealed that the capital Reykjavik is one of the cheapest European destinations you can fly to from the U.S. this spring – from as little as $140 one-way.

Iceland has also just renovated and expanded a new airport in the north of the country called Akureyri International.

view of icelandic landscape from plane window

While you cannot fly here directly from the U.S., you can from some European cities such as London, and it also allows you to fly internally from Reykjavik – a sometimes cheaper and quicker alternative than a road trip across the country. 

Volcanoes Not Stopping Travel

There has been a well-documented increase in volcanic activity in Iceland over the past few months, with an eruption near the southwestern town of Grindavik causing evacuations.

This activity was declared to have been completed by the Icelandic Met Office on February 8 this year.

mount Fagradalsfjall volcano errupting in iceland with lava flow

Because Iceland is so used to volcanic activity, it has a very sophisticated monitoring and warning system, so you can be reassured that unless it’s an unprecedented eruption like Eyjafjallajökull in 2010, which grounded 100,000 flights, you should be fine to visit.

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