After studying abroad for the winter semester in Denmark, I decided to stop by Iceland on the way home. The country subsidizes flights so returning home through Iceland with a layover for a few days was actually cheaper than flying straight back! I highly recommend going back through Iceland after studying abroad or traveling in Europe— it was a really incredible experience. I rented a van and drove around the country for nine days in the dead of winter. Iceland has some spectacular geologic landforms— as someone very interested in geography I found the landscape to be SO cool. I hiked up volcanoes, went ice climbing on a glacier, swam in geothermal hot springs, and drove around boundary between two continental plates. (The photo above is me after my glacier ice climb!) All of the tectonic activity means Iceland runs almost entirely on geothermal energy— this makes for some relaxing natural hot tubs— my favorite was called Hrunalaug!
Also, since Iceland is so far north, it is a spectacular place to see the northern lights— especially in winter. I got to see them a few nights in a row— I can see why the Vikings and early settlers believed in magic! With fiery volcanoes, bright green and purple lights in the sky, and mysterious bubbling pools, no wonder they told tales of trolls, elves, magic, and gods.
The coolest places I would recommend are the Diamond glacier lagoon beach, the famous black sand beach near Vik, Hrunalaug hidden hot spring, the Skogafoss waterfall (make sure to take the hike up past the staircase to the top!), and Friðheimar (an awesome restaurant that makes all of their food out of tomatoes grown using geothermal energy!)