The mention of Iceland conjures up images of reindeer and Santa Claus, but there is much more to the country than vast expanses of snow and ice. The landscape also includes glaciers, waterfalls, geysers and hot springs. Geysir is a gushing geyser which is a natural wonder in its enormity. There are dormant and active volcanoes, with a recent eruption occurring under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier in 2010.
Tourists can swim in pools that are geo-thermally heated by volcanoes. The coastal areas are full of deep, narrow sea inlets between high cliffs, called fjords. In the winter, a wonderful natural phenomenon called the Aurora Borealis or Northern lights is a major attraction for people on holiday; it consists of random displays of colored light flashing across the sky. Thankfully, the natural beauty of this country has not yet been spoilt by commercialism and modern progress.
Iceland is situated in the Nordic belt of Europe, where the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans meet. Although it is close to Greenland in North America, it is politically and geographically allocated to Europe. Settlements are concentrated around three major cities, with the rest of the country being sparsely populated. An Iceland vacation will include a visit to one or more of these cities. Guesthouses and rental apartments are easily available for tourists, but early bookings are required during the peak season from June to September.
This is the capital city and the largest. It has a youthful vibe and happening nightlife. However, the best tourist activities in Reykjavik are nature-oriented. Go fishing and whale watching
, or book into a ski resort or a skating rink. Attempt to scale the 914-meter tall Mount Esja; hikers are rewarded with a 360-degree view of the city at the top.
Akureyri lies in northern Iceland at the head of a long fjord, while snow-capped peaks form a perfect backdrop in the distance. It is second in size, after Reykjavik. Formerly a trading post, shipyards and fishing companies now form the main industry. Glerargil canyon has many walking trails. The islands of Hrisey and Grimsey form a part of Akureyri's municipality and are famous for bird-watching
This is the only city in the north-western part of Iceland. Its name is derived from fjord. The residents were primarily fishermen, but political regulations and reduction in fish caused mass migration and the population dwindled. In recent times, alternative music has sprung up as an industry in an attempt to move the concentration of cultural events away from Reykjavik.