One of the things people missed out on during COVID-19 lockdowns was the ability to travel the world. All of us have a special bucket list of places we’d like to see, and for many, Iceland occupies a top spot. Now that traveling is once again possible and starting to become a smoother process, fast tourism is massively increasing again.
In Iceland this is more than evident, but what exactly is it about the country that has made its tourism industry bounce back so easily, especially when other countries continue to struggle? In fact, Iceland as a travel destination is so popular that it was many people’s first holiday after restrictions were lifted. Let’s look at why Iceland is the best post-pandemic destination.
Why is Iceland so Safe?
There are a number of reasons why Icelanders have managed to open up their country so quickly and effectively. Here are some of the biggest supporting factors.
- Low population density. Iceland contains approximately 3 people per square kilometer, compared to 281 people per square kilometer in the UK. As it’s so sparsely populated, viruses have a lesser chance of spreading throughout the country so quickly.
- Easy access to testing. Testing centers are easy to reach and, although you may have to queue, you’ll be seen fairly quickly. An appointment can be booked online for a pre-departure test. Although centers normally say that it takes up to 48 hours to receive your results, you’ll generally get them in digital form the same day.
- Supporting each other. If someone becomes sick, they’ll be given time off work or school to quarantine with no repercussions. Regardless of what restrictions have been and are in place, people have supported each other when they have become sick.
And so, while traveling to Iceland isn’t the same as it was in 2019, it’s becoming better and better. Border officials are doing their best to make your entry into Iceland as easy as possible. As is the case with most countries nowadays, you are still required to meet certain criteria before and upon entry, which you can find here.
You will land in Keflavík International Airport, which is around 45 minutes from Reykjavík. You’ll undergo a test before leaving the terminal, and the results will be sent to you as soon as possible. Assuming the test is negative, your adventure can begin right away.
As of the time of writing in January 2022, the Icelandic government has imposed restrictions on gatherings, masks and proximity. These restrictions won’t affect your trip too much, except for longer queues outside of venues such as swimming pools. However, the great thing about the Icelandic countryside is that there’s more than enough room for everybody.
How Popular is Iceland?
Is Iceland a common travel destination? Well, prior to COVID-19, visitor numbers had risen to over two million per year. The largest portion traveled from North America, with June to August being the most popular time to visit. Naturally, numbers dropped when COVID-19 hit, but now the tourism industry is gradually bouncing back.
There was a 164% increase in visitor numbers between summer 2020 and summer 2021. Almost half of these traveled from the US, with other European countries making up most of the rest. You can find a breakdown of more statistics at the Icelandic Tourist board website.
So, considering how quickly Iceland is returning to high visitation numbers, it’s clear that it’s a very popular travel destination. The attractive lure surrounding Iceland will only increase, as those who visit on a yearly basis are joined by first-time visitors. The country’s tourism industry continues to develop, and is now one of its biggest industries.
The fact is, people don’t come to Iceland to relax on a beach. Instead, they touch down with high expectations for hiking and exciting exploration opportunities of some of the country’s top natural sights. But, because lots of destinations possess their own natural marvels, why is Iceland so popular?
Why is Iceland so Popular?
- It’s between North America and Europe. Iceland is ideally located in the Atlantic Ocean for those travelling between the two continents. The trans-Atlantic flight is long and tiring, and a stop about halfway through breaks the otherwise lengthy trip up nicely. In fact, several airlines actually offer free stopovers in Iceland between the continents for up to a week.
- It’s an adventure destination. Iceland is a place made for spending time outdoors, where most restrictions are not enforced. Whether you’re trying to spot whales or hunting for the northern lights, Iceland’s incredible natural features don’t stop for viruses.
- It’s the film set for many famous shows and films. Game of Thrones, Vikings and several Marvel films had scenes shot in various locations around Iceland. There are companies which offer filming location tours for major fans, but it’s also fun to find the sites for yourself.
- It has an untarnished natural beauty. The locals work hard to preserve the landscape, even with the over 2 million tourists who visit Iceland every year. Three national parks and other protected areas keep large parts safe from human encroachment and damage.
- Volcanoes! Whenever an eruption occurs, visitor numbers spike. That’s exactly what happened in early-mid 2021, when Fagradalsfjall erupted in south-west Iceland. People weren’t going to let a few COVID restrictions stop them from seeing the aftermath of a volcanic eruption. Although the volcano is not currently erupting, scientists believe it’s not finished yet.
- The northern lights! While summer is the peak time for tourism, many visit in winter with the hopes of seeing the aurora. While it’s never guaranteed to happen while you’re here, the lights do appear frequently every winter, so you never know when it will be your time to take in the magical natural light show.
Recommended Trips for this year
There are some benefits to having temporarily reduced visitor numbers. You’ll find it easier to book the excursions and accommodations you want, and popular sites won’t be as busy. Here are a few recommendations.
- The Blue Lagoon/Sky Lagoon.
- These famous geothermal spas can become busy, and they’re not as fun when you don’t have much room to move. Better to visit them now while you can experience their massive size before they become overly crowded again.
The Blue Lagoon is around 40 minutes from Reykjavík, and the Sky Lagoon around 15. While the Blue Lagoon has been around for decades, Sky Lagoon is a newer addition to the Icelandic spa family.
- The Golden Circle. This is Iceland’s most famous tourist route. As such, it receives a large number of visitors. While you’ll never experience a traffic jam, you will be jostling for space at all the popular route stops. On the other hand, if you go now, you’ll have a much better view with more space to take photos without strangers in them.
- The south coast. As with the Golden Circle, the south coast has several famous sites which most tourists love to stop at. Fortunately, with visitation being reduced, you’ll have a more intimate experience with the waterfalls, rock formations and glacial lagoons. If you have time, extend the drive and travel around the whole Ring Road
- The wild hot springs. Some wild springs in Iceland are only big enough to accommodate a few people. Naturally, the locals visit them too, but now you won’t need to wait as long to admire them. Seljavallalaug and Reykjadalur are particularly good places to visit for a naturally-heated dip.
Iceland is much more on the map than it was ten years ago. The combination of erupting volcanoes and impressive football results have reminded foreigners that the country has much to offer. Iceland also receives credit for the hype behind smash hits like Game of Thrones and Vikings which have turned many eyes to the island since being filmed here.
A big part of your Iceland adventure is going to be your exploration of the country. Lock in your car rental at Reykjavik Cars to secure your booking. If you’re looking for a place where you won’t have to stress about all the current hullabaloo, come to Iceland. You’ll be welcome here and there are so many incredible experiences to choose from that you’ll be planning future trips.
If you’re looking for a place where you won’t have to stress about all the current hullabaloo, come to Iceland. You’ll be more than welcome here. Not to mention there are so many incredible experiences to choose from that you’ll be planning future trips in no time. Just be sure to book your rental beforehand so you can enjoy the pristine Land of Fire and Ice to the absolute fullest.