It’s no surprise that the attractions of Iceland are going to be associated with snow, but as this is the Land of Fire and Ice, the island’s volcanoes have more than played their part in the creation of this amazing country that lies within the Arctic Circle. Iceland is stark and beautiful and its people hugely welcoming. The geography plays a huge part in the reasons travelers choose to brave the cold to see the best attractions of Iceland.
The capital city, Reykjavik, has gained attention and recognition as one of the liveliest of Europe’s tourist destinations. As well as being the optimal place to base yourself for exploring the attractions of Iceland, it makes for a fabulous city break. To the east is the Old City with parks, playgrounds, loud music and a high level of activity. The focal point for complete enjoyment is the Austurvöllur Square, with over 200 cafes, restaurants, discos and much more, and designed to cater for all tastes. It is the Reykjavik party that lasts until the early hours of the morning. For those who prefer a quieter side, there are churches and some very interesting museums and galleries to visit.
The capital of the West Fjords region is the remarkable town of Ísafjörður, which is surrounded by high mountains and where the past is blended into the present. There are also two valleys on the fjord that provide facilities for outdoor activities such as snow sports in winter, camping, a large golf course and hiking in summer. This town has been one of the most productive centers in the fishing industry for many years and amongst its buildings, are some dating back to the 18th century.
3. The Snæfellsjökull Glacier
One of the amazing sights of Iceland is positioned on top of a volcano in the centre of a National Park. With its peak soaring 1446 meters (4745 feet) into the sky, it is visible from Reykjavik, about 200 kilometers (124.274 miles) distance. This is the place that Jules Verne chose for his characters to start their “Journey to the Center of the Earth.” Because of global warming, various researchers have predicted that this glacier could disappear within 50 years.
4. Þingvellir (Assembly Plain)
Pingvellir is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Iceland because of its historical, geological and cultural influences. Not only is it the 930 AD site of the first Icelandic parliament, but it is the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, as well as having the largest natural lake in Iceland. The Þingvellir National Park was the first in Iceland and was decreed a national shrine. The scenery is breathtaking and it’s also one of the best places in the country to view the Northern Lights.
5. Lake Mývatn
Covering an area of 36.5 square kilometers (14.093 square miles), Lake Mývatn is one of the attractions of Iceland that is as equally stunning in summer and winter. The lake is shallow, with a maximum depth of 5 meters, and is home to a wide variety of bird life. This includes having the largest variety of ducks in the world. With its small coves and more than 40 islets, the lake is a sanctuary and source of food for the bird and trout populations. Mývatn is drained by the Laxá, which is one of the best rivers in Iceland for salmon.
An interesting walk through natural surroundings to the top of the two tiered waterfall named Gullfoss, will take you to one of the most spectacular things to see in Iceland. A special and frequent experience is the appearance of rainbows over the falls, which create an almost surreal atmosphere. The sound produced by the falls is evidence of their power and provides a wonderful background.
One of the greatest attractions of Iceland must be home of Geysir in the Geysir regional park. Entering the park, you are met by a view of the steam rising from the variety of hot springs, streams and vents that are situated across this area. Geysir gave its name to erupting hot springs and this one’s first recorded eruption was in the in the 14th century.
8. Westman Islands
There are plenty of small islands off the coast and in the Icelandic fjords, many of which are home to wildlife but uninhabited. The Westman Islands, just off the coast of Heimaey, are the largest of the islands. It is the home of the Orca whale, which gained fame in the movie Free Willy. Those in the know say that you don’t know Iceland until you have visited the Westman Isles. The stark beauty of the islands – devastated by a volcanic eruption in 1973 - lies in the gorgeously rugged coastline, picturesque towns and wildlife, including a colony of puffins.
Don’t let the climate put you off the opportunity to experience the attractions of Iceland. There are many more than I have listed here and the country definitely has enough to see and things to do for a holiday of a lifetime. Would you go?