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On my first ever solo adventure, I decided to visit Reykjavik, Iceland for a week. My family had stopped there for one night on the way home from Copenhagen in the summer of 2015. Something about the island intrigued me – I knew I wanted to see more. We watched the sunset at 11:00 at night. It was an image that will forever be ingrained in my memory as one of the most gorgeous, vibrant displays of nature that I have ever seen. During a very turbulent time in my life, I found myself being called back to that healing mountain air. So I booked a flight and an Airbnb, and a month later, off I went.

Iceland is the most peaceful country in the world. This is a very reassuring thing for a girl travelling on her own at nineteen, let me tell you. The people are incredibly friendly and helpful. It’s a stark contrast with the somewhat hostile climate and hard-to-navigate bus system. Thankfully, there is wifi nearly everywhere in the capital area, and I read that there are 4G LTE cellular services even in the far reaches of the island. Be assured by the fact that you will be very well connected no matter where you go.

What can you do?

When you step off the plane in Iceland, you step into a whole new world. The landscape is riddled with far-off mountains and large chunks of black volcanic rock, which makes it feel like you’re on another planet. No matter who you are, there is something for you on this island.

If you are the adventurous type, there are plenty of thrilling adventures you may partake in. You can descend into the heart of a volcano, hike glaciers decades old, or stand between two continents. In winter, you can even see the Northern Lights! If you are more of the bookish type, there is also plenty for you to do. You could easily spend more than a week exploring the island’s library, art displays and museums, and quaint cobblestone streets.

But no matter what your intention in visiting Iceland, you must at one point enjoy the warmth of the hot springs. There are gorgeous spas like the Blue Lagoon, more natural geothermal beaches, or several public pools powered by nature. There, you can find water of varying depths and temperature for nearly all your water needs. You can splash around with your kid in the shallow end, swim laps for time in an Olympic sized pool, or sit and chat with your family in the hot tubs. In Iceland, it is a ritual for the locals to spend their social time here, relaxing in the fresh air and letting the heat soak into their tired bodies. The health benefits are endless – from clearer skin to relieving pressure on aching bones and reducing the pain of arthritis. It is an experience I highly recommend.

Still on the fence?

If you have the chance to visit Iceland, you should take it. It is an experience you will never forget. In order to increase tourism and awareness of the effects of global warming on the island, several airlines are now offering a layover in Iceland at no extra charge. You can stay for up to seven days when you fly between Europe and North America, and the only things you have to pay for are food and accommodation. It is the perfect way to unwind after a busy family vacation. It gives you the chance to take in all you’ve experienced and hit pause before you return to everyday life.

If you are looking for a place to get away for a week, Iceland is also the perfect place. If you go in the offseason, flights can be extremely cheap and accommodations are quite reasonable. Just be sure to budget for food and experiences, as these can add up if you are not careful. Find out more at Wow Air and Inspired by Iceland and Visit Reykjavik.

If you weren’t already convinced, here are a few photos from my recent adventure for an inside look at how magical this place can be. Enjoy!

Maia Thomlinson is a poet who creates with and on her hands, constantly exploring new mediums to connect with the people she seeks to reach. It could also be said that she is a hand balancer who writes, as both passions hold equal space in her heart. Currently, she is pursuing film, photography and illustration in combination with poetry and spoken word.

In the hours she is not busy writing, creating or balancing on her hands, Maia loves to bake and people watch and spend time with family and friends, ideally in nature. She hopes to travel a lot in the near future. Find her adventures at www.mdthomlinson.com or on Instagram @mdt_handstander.