A vacation is always a trip to look forward to, and when you are trying to keep sustainable tourism in mind it really can add a layer of appreciation and intentionality into traveling and experiencing the place you are visiting. To define sustainable tourism, one can consider it as “the tourism that does not have a negative impact on the environment and local communities where it took place” (UNWTO, 2014).
Sustainable tourism can look a variety of different ways, including but not limited to camping and living on the land to being mindful about accommodations, travel patterns and what you choose to support upon arrival to your destination. Iceland is a common destination that comes up for sustainable tourism because sustainability at its core is so engrained in the way of life and functionality in Iceland from transportation to food, and the country has been mindful about how it is growing and how that intersects with its beautiful nature and landscapes.
Here are some of the sustainable activities you can do in Iceland and experience some of the incredible beauty here:
Explore geothermal pools
Geothermal pools are a major draw to Iceland for many visitors, particularly because pools like Blue Lagoon not only have water that offers relaxation and health benefits, but also incredible backdrop of natural landscapes. The Blue Lagoon is 100% powered by geothermal energy and to be in a large geothermal pool that size that is relaxing, beautiful an sustainable is quite the experience! If you’re considering where to stay at Blue Lagoon Iceland, it is also worth considering the hotel right off the pool so you don’t pend the extra time and resources to reach another set of accommodation. You can also find geothermal pools throughout Reykjavík, not far from Blue Lagoon.
There are plenty of beautiful hiking trails to choose from throughout Iceland! As you’re just on foot, this is also one of the most sustainable activities you can do. Pack food ahead of time, stay on the trails, and pack out whatever you bring in to reduce your footprint. Some beautiful hikes are the Glymur Waterfall Hike, the Laugavegur Trail, and the Brennisteinsalda-Bláhnúkur Loop.
There are dormant volcanos throughout Iceland, and you can hike up and explore them while also learning more about the power that they carry. The opportunities to see volcanos are a major driver for visitors coming to Iceland and it is well worth taking the time to explore them.
Camping is a sustainable way you can travel throughout Iceland and also stay connected to nature here. Just be sure to pack plenty of layers so you are always prepared for drops in temperature. You’ll want to be on/near a registered campsite and avoid private land that is woven throughout Iceland.
Horseback rides are a fun and adventurous way you can cover more ground than you would hiking. Not to mention you get the experience of being connected an authentic Icelandic horse while out exploring the beauty of Iceland! If you want an activity you can do to explore but cover more ground than you would on foot or even by bike, this is a great option.
Trying local dishes
While in Iceland, try local dishes to not only reduce your impact but also to experience the local cuisine! There is also quite the vegan scene in Reykjavík and other larger cities.
Have you ever been to Iceland? What are some sustainable activities you loved?