Iceland, a spot of stark pure magnificence, has been carved by the ice caps that encompass and canopy her and moulded by the fiery lava that flows by way of her veins. Her folks proudly name her the Land of Ice and Hearth. This can be a place for the true adventurer, a spot the place you’ll be able to dive between two continental plates, surf within the icy Atlantic beneath the midnight solar, hike by way of smouldering fields of lava, enterprise deep into the guts of one in all Europe’s greatest glaciers and observe the course of historic lava by way of underground tunnels.
Iceland a Work in Progress
Iceland is actually a piece in progress, slowly however certainly rising in dimension. It lies on the North Atlantic Rift the place the tectonic plates of Eurasia and North America are slowly tearing themselves aside. That is the one place on earth the place you’ll be able to see the perimeters of the 2 continents above water and take a stroll between them.
Eleven p.c of the inside of Iceland is capped by greater than seven thousand 200 sq. kilometres of glacial ice. It’s in one of many world’s most lively geothermal hotspots, containing lava deserts and geothermal swimming pools and geysers. It boasts Europe’s largest glacier and probably the most voluminous waterfall, one in all almost ten thousand positioned in Iceland. Rivers and streams thread their means by way of black sand deserts and landscapes of just about impossibly inexperienced mosses, ferns and birches. Lakes have taken residence within the rents within the earth, glowing with clear glacial water.
And but, Iceland barely featured on the vacationer map till the huge volcanic eruption of 2010 grounded planes in Europe within the greatest aviation shutdown since World Battle Two.
Journalists converged on Iceland and found the pristine pure magnificence that’s hers. The nation has since turn out to be such a well-liked vacation spot that the variety of vacationers that go to her shores annually numbers shut to 5 occasions her inhabitants of 350 000 folks.
When to Journey to Iceland
The form of your Icelandic journey shall be decided by the point of yr that you simply select to journey. Daytime, landscapes, temperatures and accessibility differ considerably throughout the numerous seasons of the yr.
Iceland isn’t as chilly as you could have imagined. In winter the temperatures hover round freezing level, however in December there are not more than 4 hours of daylight. In winter the worth of every little thing from airfare to motels and leisure drops by as much as a 3rd. That is additionally when you may get to see the Northern Lights in all their glory. Throughout this time of yr, the countryside shall be draped in a gorgeous thick layer of snow, however many areas shall be inaccessible.
In the summertime months, the solar units for just a few hours every day and even then, the evening is little greater than a protracted sundown. For individuals who want to make good use of the lengthy daylight, that is the very best time to go to.
Attending to Iceland
Iceland is a part of Nordic Europe and Schengen visa guidelines apply.
There are common flights into Iceland from Europe and North America and ferries run from Europe regularly. Icelandair gives the choice of a stopover for as much as seven nights when flying between North America and Europe. For this, there isn’t a extra price.
The airport is forty kilometres exterior of the capital metropolis Reykjavik and you may get a bus or cab to your lodging within the capital.
The easiest way to see Iceland is by camper van, or you can think about
The highway is single carriage a lot of the means and in some areas, it deteriorates to gravel so it is best to add gravel insurance coverage to your rental. You possibly can set your personal tempo in the event you self-drive. However, the guided tour gives some perception into the historical past and the geology of this enchanting land.
The place to Keep
Most cities and villages in Iceland have their very own tenting floor and this is likely one of the greatest methods to spend an evening in Iceland. There are additionally locations the place you’ll be able to camp within the wild with no allow when you’ve got fewer than three tents. It’s advisable to hunt permission earlier than tenting on or round farmland. Campervans might solely be utilized in a campsite.
There’s a first rate choice of motels and visitor homes within the cities. Strive the household guesthouses, farmhouses and mountain cabins when travelling across the Ring Highway for a real Icelandic expertise.
Helpful to Know
Meals could be very costly. A mean lunch may set you again by $30. All hostels, campsites and visitor homes have kitchen services. Making your personal meals is one of the simplest ways of guaranteeing that you’ve cash to your different adventures. Tipping isn’t vital. Alcohol could be very costly as it’s closely taxed.
The water is clear and drinkable so you do not want to buy bottled water.
Take your personal towels to the thermal swimming pools. They’re costly to hire. Anticipate to take a bathe earlier than you enter communal baths. There’s little chlorine within the water and the native persons are fussy about private hygiene.
All Icelanders communicate good English as they’re anticipated to cross the language earlier than leaving elementary college.
The climate is changeable. It’s essential to be ready as situations can change from heat to chilly and moist in a short time. The wind can decide up rapidly, bringing with it an icy edge.
All the time pay attention to the delicate atmosphere. Driving off highway is illegitimate. The crime charge in Iceland is likely one of the lowest on the earth.
Most holidays to Iceland begin in probably the most northerly capital on the earth, Reykjavik. Town has a vigorous café tradition and a vibrant nightlife, among the finest in Northern Europe. Right here you will discover jazz classes, comedy theatre, craft beer bars, drag reveals, and cabarets. Town is small, fairly, cosmopolitan and costly. The streets are lined with colourful, low-rise buildings. Within the distance, the snow-capped mountains are at all times seen.
The delicacies within the metropolis is great with a big selection of eating places serving native and worldwide meals. Icelandic meals runs the gamut of lamb or fish and the extra unique sheep’s heads, whale meat or fermented shark.
It’s best to discover Reykjavik on foot. Go to the music bars, the boutiques and the cafes, artwork galleries, museums, and public gardens. Get a view of Reykjavik from the tower of the Hallgrimskirkja Lutheran Church. It’s 74 meters tall and is one in all Iceland’s largest buildings. It has a 360⁰viewing platform and from it, you’ll be able to see the colourful streets of Reykjavik and the harbor bay. Within the entrance of the church is a statue of Leif Erikson, the person who sailed to North America 5 hundred years earlier than Columbus.
Study all about native marine life on the Previous Harbour. On the weekend there’s a vibrant flea market within the harbour, the place you should buy native crafts reminiscent of the luxurious jerseys for which Iceland is legendary. From the harbour, you’ll be able to take a ship trip to one of many close by islands. On Viðey you’ll discover the Lennon Ono peace tower. The islands are stuffed with birds that embrace puffins, arctic terns and cormorants.
Take a category on the Icelandic Elf College in Reykjavik. You’ll be taught by individuals who declare to have met an elf or two. Many Icelandic folks consider in elves. In a 2007 survey, 37% of Icelandic folks mentioned that they believed that elves probably existed.
For those who’re in Reykjavik throughout the winter months hitch a trip to find the Northern Lights. In summer season, take a ship out to the islands to see the puffins nesting.
The Blue Lagoon
Half means between the airport and Reykjavik, the Blue Lagoon is likely one of the most photographed areas in Iceland. Comprised of artificial thermal swimming pools in shade of electrical blue. The water temperature by no means drops beneath 38 levels Celsius, winter or summer season. Soaking in these heat exterior swimming pools while surrounded by snow and ice is surreal, and the encompassing countryside provides to this dreamlike fantasy because the black rock backdrops and surrounding steam create a whimsical setting.
Snæfellsjökull glacier is the volcano that took centre stage in Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth, and it looms over the landscapes on the peninsula. Dramatic scenes unfold as you make your means across the coast.
The ocean cliffs at Snæfellsjökull are merely outstanding. The columned basalt cliffs function evenly spaced block columns that tower as much as fourteen metres into the heavens. They’re trimmed by golden seashores so in contrast to the black seashores discovered elsewhere in Iceland. On a great day, you’ll discover frequent or gray seals sunning themselves on the sands.
Right here black lava fields circulation all the way down to tender pink sand seashores, and hills and rocks are lined with emerald inexperienced mosses and ferns. The world is stuffed with mineral springs and thermal swimming pools. The place names carry tales of human’s interplay with trolls and elves.
Certainly one of Iceland’s loveliest pure harbours will be discovered at Arnarstapi. Right here you’ll be able to stroll the huge basalt cliffs, and look at the harbour and the seashores from above, or hike alongside the seashore and discover the arches and caves beneath.
Fishing villages, lighthouses and splendid and weird rock formations are dotted all alongside the shoreline. In Stykkishólmur, the biggest city on the peninsula, you’ll be able to go to the weird Library of Water. Right here roof excessive glass tubes comprise water from every of the glaciers in Iceland. It’s a stunning exhibit created by an artist. The library is positioned on a hill, so you’ll be able to view the city and the harbour from above. One of many world’s largest eider farms is positioned right here, and you can also make the acquaintance of the geese on the eider centre.
Into the Coronary heart of a Glacier
One thousand 200 and sixty meters above sea degree now you can enter the world of glacial ice. The world’s largest manmade glacier tunnel was launched final yr. Positioned in Iceland’s second largest glacier Langjokull, it stretches 5 hundred meters into the ice. Contained in the ice tunnel, you enter a world
The journey to the tube is simply as thrilling because the tour of the tunnel as you’re transported from the bottom camp to the tunnel in a monster truck with eight wheels constructed to traverse snow and ice. The truck was acquired from NATO, and by settlement, won’t ever be used anyplace else. While within the space spend the afternoon exploring the glacier on a snowmobile. It’s an journey all of its personal.
Comply with the Circulation of Lava
A visit to Iceland could be incomplete with no tour by way of a lava cave. Vatnshellir tunnels thirty-five meters into the earth and is 200 meters lengthy. Positioned on the peninsula it’s one in all Iceland’s most interesting and most accessible lava tunnels.
Lava caves are fashioned when molten lava hardens, creating the roof. It then drains out, abandoning a tunnel. Strolling by way of the tunnel you’ll be able to see the progress of the lava. The interior partitions of the tunnels are a kaleidoscope of colors with rock sculptures and whorls and drips in numerous shades created by the mineral response with the lava. Throughout winter the caves glitter with ice sculptures.
Certainly one of The Largest Lava Caves within the World
At 148 000 cubic meters Víðgelmir is one in all the largest lava caves in the world. It has a whole lot of lava stalactites and stalagmites, and within the winter, ice sculptures be a part of them. Viking jewelry and bones have been just lately discovered right here. Within the cave, lights goal probably the most spectacular sights, highlighting the luxurious colors and formations in what is taken into account to be one of the vital outstanding caves on earth. The cave is one thousand 600 metres lengthy and is accessible between April and December.
Latrabjarg – Chicken Lover’s Paradise
Located on the most westerly level of Iceland is a fowl lover’s paradise. It’s a cliff, fourteen kilometres lengthy, and peaking at 4 hundred and forty metres excessive. That is thought-about among the finest seabird cliffs anyplace on the earth. In the summertime months, Iceland hosts almost ten million puffins, lots of them proper right here. Shut by, the city of Breidavik Seashore has a resort, a restaurant and a few beautiful climbing trails
Húsafell – Iceland’s Summer season Vacation Venue
Húsafell has at all times been a favorite summer season vacation venue for Icelandic nationals. It’s an historic farm with a church on the lands. This can be a forested space crammed with glowing glacial streams and crashing waterfalls. It’s in style for climbing or biking, however it’s possible you’ll need to take the chance to get to know the delightful Icelandic horse, a breed all of its personal.
The small horse traces its ancestry to the tenth century when Vikings introduced ponies to Iceland. It’s acknowledged as a person breed of horse. The animal is cherished by the Icelandic folks for its sure-footedness and talent to seek out its means even in tough climate situations. Guests to Iceland have additionally taken to the Icelandic horses and it’s now exported to a number of nations around the globe.
The east of Iceland is the least in style amongst vacationers, and this can be a part of its appeal – fewer folks. On this a part of the island, the East Fjords are dotted with little fishing villages and surrounded by stunning mountains. In a rustic with few bushes, East Iceland is dwelling to the most important forest within the nation. Thirty-five thousand wild reindeer stay within the space. In season you may get easy accessibility to puffins.
South Iceland accommodates a few of the hottest vacationer locations. These embrace the Reykjanes Peninsula, the Golden Circle and Thorsmork, the very best climbing vacation spot in Iceland.
Thingvellir Nationwide Park
Thingvellir Nationwide Park is the primary cease off on the well-known Golden Circle, Iceland’s hottest tour. This park is on the coronary heart of Iceland’s geological and historic foundations. It was right here that the world’s oldest present Parliament was first established by the Vikings in 930 AD. It continued there, in Nature’s amphitheatre, till 1798 when it was moved to Reykjavik. Relics of the time, the stays of historic stone and turf houses, lie scattered all through the park.
The geology of the park has been carved by the fury of the earth because the continental plates of North America and Eurasia drift aside. Right here you’ll be able to stroll between two continents or stand on every and accumulate your certificates.
Take a dive in Lake Silfra, deep contained in the rift valley. The lake is fed from melt-off from the Langjökull glacier, and since it’s filtered by way of rock, it’s crystal clear, with visibility of as much as eighty metres. The colors of the water are breathtaking, with greens and blues of each hue.
The park is surrounded on three sides by mountains. It boasts terribly stunning surroundings with moss lined lava, scattered with lakes and dotted with small birch forests.
Geysir Geothermal Space
The second cease on the Golden Circle tour, Haukadalur Valley is an space of intense geothermal exercise and you may see the steam rising above it from miles away. The world is stuffed with steam vents, swimming pools of boiling water and effervescent mud swimming pools which give vent to the pungent scent of sulphur.
This valley is the house of Geysir, the traditional pure marvel that gave its title to all different such phenomena. Geysir seldom vents anymore however Strokkur, alongside it, could be very lively and places on a present a number of occasions each hour. A lot to the delight of the onlookers, Strokkur catapults water and steam as much as forty metres into the air.
The final cease on the tour is the gorgeous Gullfoss waterfall, one in all Europe’s greatest, it drops down a thirty-two-meter two-tier fall.
On a sunny day, its glowing waters are dressed with rainbows.
Skaftafell Nature Reserve
Skaftafell Nature Reserve covers 4 thousand eight hundred sq. kilometres of land and encompasses black lava deserts, birch forests and moss banked roaring rivers. Waterfalls additionally grace the park. Having fun with milder climates than many different areas on the island, many individuals benefit from the tenting services within the shadow of the Öræfajökull glacier.
The world is mountainous and contains the mighty Vatnajökull Glacier. This can be a excellent place to take a glacier tour. Glaciers stunning as they’re from a distance, have a lot extra to supply up-close. They’re moulded by the weather in order that they alter day-to-day, as tunnels and ice sculptures wax and wane.
Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
Simply sixty kilometres east, you’ll discover the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. This stunning blue lagoon is sprinkled with big icebergs which have calved from the glacier icecap. This lagoon has turn out to be Iceland’s deepest lake, regularly rising because the ice cap retreats. It’s dwelling to numerous seals.
In the summertime months, you’ll be able to take a ship journey on the lagoon to view the seals and whales and to get near the icebergs. In winter, you’re in for a deal with of a special type when the underground ice caves are open to vacationer teams. Vatnajökull Ice Caves are fashioned in the summertime months when melt-off from the glacier flows beneath the ice, making a fairytale world of glowing ice caves.
In wintertime ice chunks lay upon the black seashore, glistening like diamonds.
Thorsmork or Thor’s Park is a favorite climbing spot in Iceland. It’s a place of unimaginable pure magnificence and is a valley surrounded by three main glaciers. The green-clad mountains are threaded with streams and rivers. Waterfalls add to the dramatic landscapes. There are a number of methods to discover this space from climbing to modified jeeps, horseback driving, biking or all-terrain automobiles.
Volcano huts and campgrounds can be found for in a single day stays and there’s a full restaurant.
The Landmannalaugar mountain vary stands in vibrant distinction to the pitch-black lava area proper subsequent to it. These Rhyolite mountains are a singular sight, in shades of pink, yellow, orange and inexperienced, colors that change because the solar crosses the sky. The valleys beneath the naked slopes of the mountain are clad in shiny inexperienced mosses and grasses and in spring, they’re crammed with wildflowers. Right here the rivers run heat as the world is geothermally lively, and you’ll find quite a few heat spas to soak in. Huts and tenting services can be found. There’s additionally a small provide retailer.
Essentially the most well-known seashore in Iceland and one of the vital picturesque, these black sand and pebble seashores are walled in by basalt pillared cliffs. Sea stacks rise from the livid Atlantic waters, that are well-known for tossing rogue waves onto the blackened shoreline.
For those who’re an adventurous kind, a browsing journey to the Reykjanes Peninsula is effectively well worth the effort. The view of the land from the ocean is spectacular, and in contrast to different high browsing websites, you gained’t be sharing your wave with anybody. Ensure that to exit with an Icelandic surf knowledgeable because the climate and currents are unpredictable.
LAVA – The Earthquake Museum
The just lately opened, Lava Volcano and Earthquake Museum options viewing platforms that overlook Eyjafjallajökull, Katla and Hekla. Right here you’ll be able to expertise simulated earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Interactive software program explains the geology behind the phenomena.
Húsavík is likely one of the greatest locations on the earth to look at whales. The whales occupy the bay. The runoff from the encompassing mountains has endowed the lagoon with minerals that feed the plankton that the whales love. Boats of varied varieties depart from the city into the lagoon in order that guests can get to see these animals shut up, and of their pure atmosphere. Humpback Minke and Blue Whale are ceaselessly seen feeding and breaching in these waters.
On the banks, you’ll discover a vibrant fishing village the place you’ll be able to go to the whale museum or end the day sampling Icelandic fish dishes.
Lake Myvatn was fashioned about two thousand 5 hundred years in the past by a volcanic eruption. The lake district is wealthy with fowl and animal life. It’s a massive shallow lake famed for its vast number of geese. The world has many effervescent mud pots and thermal swimming pools, and the air is redolent with the pungent scent of sulphur.
Simply seventy kilometres off Iceland’s southern shoreline, the Westman Islands comprise a gaggle of thirty islands which can be dwelling to the most important puffin inhabitants on earth. The biggest, Heimaey, is the one populated island. It was devastated by a volcanic eruption in 1973. Lots of the houses destroyed within the eruption stay as they have been on the time. This place is now often called the Pompei of the North. Take a ferry to tour the islands.
Other than the ruined city, you’ll additionally discover an historic Danish fort, some beautiful church buildings, and historic stone and turf homes so attribute of Iceland.
Iceland – a Place Like No Different
Iceland is a rare place with uncommon and sometimes otherworldly pure options seen nowhere else on earth. Right here you’ll be able to dive between continents, climb multi-coloured mountains, trip tremendous jeeps by way of lunar landscapes, examine icebergs and snowmobile on a few of Europe’s greatest glaciers. Camp beneath the celebs. Search the Northern Lights. Journey an Icelandic horse by way of unspoilt nature. This can be a vacation you’ll always remember.
Which might you like winter or summer season in Iceland?