Iceland is a northern European island nation that sits atop the undersea Mid-Atlantic Ridge separating the tectonic plates of North America from Eurasia in the North Atlantic Ocean. Its dynamic geological offerings make it a country of dramatic beauty and rich in natural resources. While the quest for exciting outdoor adventure is a prominent draw for many visitors to Iceland, it is by no means the country’s only tourist offering. Iceland is also rich in culture and history which is reflected in its people and architecture.
Iceland Hot Spots
The ultra adventurous must experience Iceland’s powerful waterfalls and rivers up close by taking a river rafting trip. These exhilarating trips may be taken on rivers in southern or northern Iceland.
River rafting outfitters offer guided trips that meet a variety of skill levels and scenic tastes. Don’t forget to take your camera! Before you go, read these photography tips on how to take the perfect photos in Iceland.
Experience the power of nature at Geysir, where geothermic water gushes out of the ground metres into the air, or at one of the country’s smoking volcanoes such as Eyjafjallajökull and Katla. Marvel at gushing waterfalls such as Gulfoss and the famous Detifoss before hiking up a gargantuan glacier or exploring the dramatic Westfjords.
Wildlife and Citylife
Iceland visitors may also want to explore the country’s breathtaking sites on horseback. Regent Holidays, an Iceland holiday tour operator says, “The carefully bred Icelandic horses are smaller than most breeds but are sturdy companions for sightseeing. Visitors may visit Iceland’s beaches, geysers, waterfalls, and rugged mountainsides on these graceful creatures during their trip.”
You can also get up close to Iceland’s nature with a whale watching trip via boat from Reykjavik. There are many species of whale, dolphin and porpoise in Iceland’s waters, including the great Blue Whale and Orca, as well as other creatures such as basking sharks, puffins and seals. Another amazing natural phenomenon that Iceland is famous for is the Northern Lights, again trips go from Reykjavik and are very popular so be make sure you book ahead.
Exploring Iceland Culture and History
Legend has it that Norse sailors crossed the North Atlantic Ocean and founded Iceland’s first permanent settlement in 874 A.D. The Norsemen were reportedly looking for fertile agricultural land to supplement their holdings on the Scandinavian Peninsula. They struck gold when they landed on Iceland. The island possesses a temperate climate by Scandinavian standards with mild winters and cool summers. The emerald-green valleys indicated a source of the fertile farm land for which the settlers were searching. Curiously, a small cabin was found intact by the Norse settlers that indicated that the island was no secret. That cabin’s remains can be seen during Iceland holidays in the south-western region of Iceland in the village of Hafnir.
UNESCO protected Þingvellir National Park (Thingvellir in English) is the site of Iceland’s ancient parliament building. Not long after the Norsemen settled Iceland, they formed a parliament at Þingvellir in 930 A.D. The parliament served to review and enact laws that would be applicable to the new country and served to limit the power of more populous tribes of Norsemen and newly arrived Celts.
Remains of ancient farms dot the countryside of Iceland and are great sites to explore. One of note is the manor farm Keldur which operated during Iceland’s Saga period between the 10th and 11th centuries. Living quarters and farm utility structures are many of the preserved buildings on the site; visitors on Iceland holidays get to see the country’s turf house architecture that provided early settlers with natural insulation for their homes.