Iceland is a strange and amazing island where sparkling glaciers juxtapose with dark volcanic rock and boiling geysers erupt in subzero temperatures. Waterfalls ice in the winter, and the Northern Lights dance in the sky. You can explore the interior, a true wilderness, over the summer. This is Iceland, a unique nation. Iceland is one of the most beautiful destinations on earth, located on the edge of the Arctic Circle. The Land of Fire and Ice truly lives up to its name: this icy environment is perched directly atop a volcanic melting pot, as seen by the scalding water fountains and molten lava explosions that burst from the crust. The end result is a starkly beautiful landscape.
After having been governed by Norway, Denmark, and — for a brief while — Britain, Iceland reclaimed its freedom in 1944. Since then, Iceland has experienced numerous "cod wars" with Britain and Germany, one of the worst economic collapses during the Great Recession, the first openly gay Prime Minister in the world and the nation (Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir), and the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, which caused havoc in the aviation industry. Icelanders are thought of as laid-back and occasionally fairly reserved individuals who don't take themselves too seriously. Many t-shirts with the phrase "Don't mess with Iceland!" and an illustration of an erupting volcano can be found at souvenir shops in Reykjavk. We might not have any money, but we do have ash! ’
The Greater Reykjavk area is home to the majority of the inhabitants in this hip capital, which is located on the coast of southwest Iceland. The city is only substantial in relation to the other tiny towns in Iceland, where the population is just approximately 120,000. The Hallgrmskirkja is a sizable, white church with a somewhat phallic façade that is perched high on a hill overlooking the harbor and the rows of Scandi-style homes in red, green, and blue. Speaking of which, the Icelandic Phallological Museum, which has a collection of more than 200 penises, is another of Reykjavk's most well-known landmarks. If that isn't your cup of tea, the National Museum, Jóminjasafn, highlights Iceland's history and has a fascinating photography collection on the ground floor.
A fantastic and fantastical Erró exhibition is currently on display at the Listasafn Reykjavkur Art Museum, and the Einar Jónsson Museum features some of this well-known sculptor's output. The city comes alive on Friday and Saturday nights, especially with the long summer nights.
The first thing to know when chasing the Northern Lights: even in perfect conditions, you are not guaranteed a sighting.
However, you can help yourself enormously by following these tips:
· Travel between September and March, with December and January being the best months in which to see the Aurora.
· The further north you are – and the furthest away from towns and artificial light – the better the display.
· Opt for countryside lodges, rather than city hotels where you’ll need to go on a Northern Lights tour, which can last for hours without yielding any results. It’s far better to stay outside built-up areas, so all you need do is walk outside.
· If possible, stay at a hotel that has an ‘Aurora wake-up call’ – you’ll get a call to your room when there’s some activity, which means you won’t need to stay up all night watching the sky for a display that might only last for two minutes.
· Lastly, your trip should involve more than Northern Light spotting, so if you don’t see a display, you won’t leave disappointed. Iceland has a plethora of activities and sights on offer, so this shouldn’t be too difficult.
Volcanoes, geysers and hot springs
Iceland is an unstable, volcanic island that is located directly on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. lava erupts from deep fissures that reach the Earth's core, and explosive geysers frequently shoot streams of boiling water into the freezing air. Hot water bursts through the land's frozen crust. Fly over deep fissures spewing lava and scorching natural gas in a helicopter to get a bird's-eye glimpse of Iceland's stormy landscape. The Strokker Geyser in Geysir, which is part of the well-known Golden Triangle circuit, is one of the most well-liked geysers to visit. Approximately once every 15 minutes, a water bubble will abruptly increase in size before bursting out of the ground as a huge column of boiling water.
The Blue Lagoon, conveniently close to Keflavik airport, is the most well-known geothermal pool. You can apply a face mask made of mineral-rich white silica mud on yourself on top of the naturally heated, pale blue, steaming water. If you want to be able to brush through your mane over the next few days, apply a lot of the hair conditioner that is provided. You'll quickly get used to the smell, which is caused by the high sulphur content of the water.
Iceland's glaciers cover 11% of the country. Some of these scenes are breathtaking, with gleaming white ice melting into expanses of volcanic black rock. The glacier lake Jökulsárlón is one of southern Iceland's most stunning landscapes. A colony of seals lives in Jökulsárlón, which is situated in Vatnajökull, the largest national park in Europe. You may see them coming up for air in the spaces between the lake's icebergs. You can locate a black-sand beach at the lake's estuary, which is rather otherworldly, coated in white sparkling ice chunks.
Icelandic seas have seen around 20 distinct species of whales, including minke and humpback whales. Whale viewing is best during the summer (April to September), and trips leave from all throughout Iceland, however Reykjavk's Old Harbour is typically the most convenient on a shorter trip. Porpoises, seals, basking sharks, white-beaked dolphins, and birds like puffins, gulls, and gannets can also be seen in addition to whales. There are fewer land animals in Iceland: the only indigenous mammal is the Arctic fox, and there are no polar bears.
When to go
Iceland can be visited any time of year, depending on what you wish to see. The best time to visit Iceland is between September and March if you want to endure the freezing winter for a sight of the Northern Lights, but the summer is also a fantastic time to visit the interior and engage in sports like horseback riding and trekking that are challenging during the winter. The peak months are June through August. Iceland is conveniently close to the UK and other European nations, making it an ideal stopover for North Americans traveling to continental Europe.
· Don’t tip: it’s not expected in any situation.
· Knock back the water: Icelandic drinking water is supposed to be the best in the world.
· English is widely spoken.
· The population is just over 300,000.
· Many Icelanders (as much as 80%, surveys suggest) harbour a belief in mythological creatures, such as elves and trolls. Folk tales were often used to explain the geothermal rumblings of the country.
· Iceland is one of the most eco-friendly countries in the world, due to its vast supply geothermal and natural hydro energy.