Iceland Travel Guide

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iceland

If spending holidays in hot places with sunny beaches has become nothing out of the ordinary for you, a more unusual place will certainly spice up your traveling experience and add some unique memories to it. For this purpose, I’m going to suggest visiting Iceland, a magical country which is abundant in dramatic landscapes and surreal natural wonders. Its riches include a plethora of volcanoes, outstanding glaciers, relaxing thermal springs, the breathtaking game of the northern lights, astounding mountains and a lot more for pleasing your eyes, body and mind. The native people are also one of the lonely country’s treasures and will surely captivate you with their creativity, extravagance and free-spirited lifestyle.

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If you remember, I was saying something about Iceland being a lonely country – well, it is, as the island is sitting between the North Atlantic and the Arctic Ocean, apart from the continental mainland, between North America and Europe. Its population has the lowest density in Europe, as the island has a surface of 39,699 square miles (102,775 square km) and a population of 329,100, from which two-thirds are gathered in the country’s capital, Reykjavik, and its surroundings.
As its name suggests, Iceland isn’t the kind of destination that you reach for getting tanned and its climate is subpolar oceanic; however, the Atlantic Gulf Stream warms up the place, so the island’s temperatures are higher than other countries of similar latitude. Nevertheless, you should be prepared and bring adequate clothing, especially waterproofs, keeping in mind that the temperatures here aren’t the friendliest around if you’re fond of warmth. Swimwear mustn’t be omitted from your luggage, as the island is famous for its plethora of hot springs and natural or manmade warm baths. Besides offering a relaxing experience, the thermal baths also bring numerous health benefits.

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Another thing of importance which you should be aware of is that the optimal time for visiting Iceland is in the summer, where the temperatures are at their highest. The sun is up for almost 24 hours in June and July, setting for a short time before rising up again; on the other hand, the night conquers the island during cold seasons, covering it with darkness for 20 hours in December, for example. But you needn’t be disenchanted, because we’re dealing with a beautiful darkness, as the cold months have their skies embellished by the surreal Aurora Borealis.

What to see, what to do

One of the most famous attractions in Iceland is the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa located in a black lava field between Keflavík and Grindavík. Its milky-teal warm waters are filled with white silica mud, algae and mineral salts, all of these bringing a lot of health benefits while you soak in and relax. Another similar place, but smaller and less crowded is in the northern part of Iceland, I’m talking about the Myvatn Nature Baths.

Myvatn_Nature_Baths

For admiring some gorgeous landscapes, be sure to include Gullfoss in your destinations, also known as the Golden Waterfall, where the rich vegetation meets with the spectacular dancing white waters, creating an astonishing view that shouldn’t be missed if you’re visiting the country. Nearby, at 10 km, there’s Geysir, a geothermal hot spot which was one of the greatest geysers in the world, now being dormant; however, the smaller neighboring Strokkur erupts every five to ten minutes.

gullfoss-falls

For exploring more of the country’s natural beauties, visit Landmannalaugar, a marvelous natural spot through its luxuriant greenery and colorful hills, the Þingvellir National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the Vatnajökull and Snæfellsjökull National Parks.

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As far as activities go, you can go regular or glacier hiking, ice climbing, whitewater rafting or skiing in the north. Whale watching from Reykjavik and Husavik is also a great experience.

Eat and drink

The cuisine in Iceland is based mostly on fish and lamb and the traditional food here may seem a little odd for tourists, as it includes some delicacies like putrefied rotten shark, pickeled rams’ testicles or boiled sheep head. Whale meat is also popular, especially for visitors, even though it’s a matter of controversy in the recent times.
Some traditional dishes are Skyr – a kind of yogurt, harðfiskur – dried fish with butter, hangikjöt – smoked lamb, pylsur – hot dog.
A traditional Icelandic drink is
Brennivín, a vodka-like drink made from potatoes.

cuisine

Visa Requirements

A personal ID card or a valid passport is required for visitors to Iceland, except for citizens of the Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden travelling between the Nordic countries.

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One Response to “Iceland Travel Guide”

  1. aleksawal Says:

    This is so on my bucket list – thanks for sharing!

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