A quick summary about this unconventional destination.
Icelandic nature is unspoilt, exotic and mystical with its spouting geysers, active volcanoes, tumbling waterfalls, towering mountains, vast lava plains and magical lakes. Iceland’s fjords, glaciers and highland plains present visitors with some of the most beautiful and enchanting places they will ever see, as well as a rare feeling of utter tranquillity. Reykjavík’s legendary nightlife is bolstered by year-round cultural and social events in addition to an abundance of first-class restaurants. The Reykjavik city centre is also compact enough to allow for easy navigation by foot.
For those on a quest for action, Iceland’s pristine nature offers great potential for outdoor activities such as snowmobiling, horse riding, cave exploring, hiking, swimming, skiing, river rafting, kayaking and mountain safaris on modified four-wheel drives, to name but a few. Iceland supports a surprisingly diverse Nordic flora and fauna and is an ideal place for ornithology enthusiasts, while also offering some of the world’s best whale watching destinations.
The country attracts visitors all year round, not only thanks to its diversity in landscape, but also its vital energy and contrast of lights, shades and seasons that offer new discoveries with every visit. Iceland is the world’s youngest country from a geological point of view and is still growing: a volcanic eruption in 1963 formed Surtsey, a new island off the south shore of Iceland, and the latest eruption was in 2010 in Eyjafjallajökull glacier. The island is bustling with subterranean activity, and a boundless supply of geothermal heat is used for thermal spas, cheap house-heating and natural energy creation. Iceland is the world’s second biggest user of geothermal energy, producing as much as the United States of America and trailing only the People’s Republic of China.
Icelanders, while achieving a high standard of living and education, have kept true to their Viking heritage, traditions, history and folklore. The Icelandic countryside is dotted with habitats of elves and trolls and every region has a plethora of myths and legends, many of which are kept alive by monuments and plaques. Be sure to visit one of the museums dedicated to the Saga Age or some of the sites where the Sagas took place; both are available at several locations around Iceland.
Iceland is warmer than its chilly name suggests. Warmed by the Gulf Stream, Icelandic winters are relatively mild, with average temperature in January 2004 about -0.2 °C. During the hardest winter months, Iceland is known for its limited sunlight, which coupled with the island’s northerly location, makes it one of the best places on earth to see the northern lights. The best time to see this natural phenomenon is in the nighttime darkness from October through April, if the skies are clear of clouds. Meanwhile, summer in Iceland has temperatures around 12 - 13 °C and has abundant sunlgith; May through August provides long days with bright nights, and the "midnight sun" phenonemon is especially prevalent in June.