I am a huge fan of travelling. Since the age of 9, I have dreamt of being a photographer and journalist for National Geographic. I think of travelling as one of the most significant, most influential parts of my life. So here is my article about Iceland. The main attractions in Iceland are a volcano with an unpronounceable name (Eyjafjallajoekull), geysers and singer Bjork. But the country’s nature is so great and diverse that you will be hardly bored.
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Cold ocean and hot springs, waterfalls and unforgettable majestic volcanoes, friendly people and fluffy sheep. That’s Iceland, a country which may be every experienced traveller, tired of usual Turkey, touristic Italy and fashionable Thailand, dreams about visiting. Of course, if you love the warm sea, deck chairs and a cold beer in hand, Iceland may seem not the best and not the cheapest way to spend a vacation. But suppose you are not afraid of the sub-arctic climate, wind in your face, freezing nights in a tent and hundreds of kilometres of a seemingly extraterrestrial landscape. In that case, this icy country is just for you.
The first thing that struck me in Iceland was its empty roads and the absence of people. Although this small island nation has become a trendy tourist destination, there are still fewer people than sheep or tiny Icelandic horses that you meet on its roads.
The first tip for tourists in Iceland is at least a week of free time and a rental car. To be honest, renting a car in Reykjavik is more expensive than in continental Europe, but it is worth it. A small passenger car will cost you about 60 euros a day, and about twice that much a small jeep. The ideal time to visit is July-August (otherwise, you will have a chance to become stuck in a snowdrift or literally never see the light of day), and the perfect route for the starters is the A1 highway that goes around the entire island with all its beautiful natural attractions on the way. The road length of about 1,330 kilometres.
All the stops, picnics and crazy photo taking require four to five days of travelling. During this time, you will have time to see:
Hekla Volcano and its surroundings in the south of the island, and the known volcanic region Landmannalaugar that showed up in the latest Ridley Scott’s science fiction movie “Prometheus” are proof.
A unique climate
Due to the location near the Arctic Circle, the cold subarctic climate is softened by the warm current of Golfstream, which Icelanders should be grateful for a short but present summer.
Attractions In Iceland: Natural hot springs and geysers
Due to the island’s volcanic nature, Thermal waters are not only one of the main tourist attractions in Iceland but also the primary source of electricity and hot water. One of the world-famous spa resorts, “Blue Lagoon”, known for its warm milky white waters, is situated not far from Reykjavik in the middle of a lava landscape. Rich in natural minerals and algae, it helps in treating skin diseases. Generally, I did not see a single pimpled teenager during my stay in Iceland. All thanks to the healing water that comes here, even from the tap.
Attractions In Iceland: Whales
In the capital and northern village of Husavik, special boat tours are organised to observe whales in their natural environment. Blue whales are rarely seen, but the small pilot and minke whales often occur. If you do not see a whale on your first trip – do not worry – you will get another ticket for free.
Dry and rotten fish is a national delicacy. It is worth seeing fields of openly drying fish, but the awful smell is hard to get out of your clothes and hair. Pregnant women and susceptible people are discouraged from approaching closer than 50 meters – a public toilet at a rural market is nothing compared to that stench. Needless to mention that I avoided tasting this delicacy.
Nightlife in Reykjavik
Probably it sounds ridiculous that the town with only 115,000 inhabitants may offer some great partying, but believe me – Icelanders know how to warm up on a dark, cold winter (or summer) evening.
Attractions In Iceland: Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) and Midnight Sun
Aurora Borealis can be seen during winter in the north at the fourth-largest city in the country – Akureyri. The midnight sun is similar to what you can experience in Russia’s St. Petersburg, but here it’s longer and brighter. The best time for that is June, although it was still fairly bright, even in August at 11 pm.
It turns out there are not only in Norway. Prolonged gulfs cut into the island’s mainland and form a unique coastline.
Attractions In Iceland: Icebergs
The famous iceberg lagoon (Jökulsárlón) is located in the southeast of the island and was formed after the largest glacier of Europe, Vatnayokul, began to melt. The view of the icebergs glowing in the evening sun is unforgettable. It is impossible to miss the lagoon because it is located on both sides of the main A1 road. A tour around the lagoon on amphibia cars, during which you will have the opportunity to bite off a piece of 10,000-year-old ice, is also possible.
Attractions In Iceland: Black beaches and lava formations
This unique volcanic phenomenon can be seen in volcanic regions in the South and East. Black sand is not very sunbathing-suggestive, but the photos and the video look mystical. The picturesque Cape Dyrhólaey is a nesting place of Atlantic Puffins – Iceland national symbols and lovely photogenic birds.
Interesting facts about Iceland, which are not mentioned in guidebooks:
– Professional boxing is banned. So are weapons.
– It is forbidden to own turtles, lizards and snakes as pets.
– Strip clubs and prostitution have been against the law since 2009. That was the way Iceland decided to fight human trafficking.
– Icelanders do not have last names, only patro- or, in rare cases, matronymics. My Icelandic friend Leifur’s second name is Orasson, which literally means “Son of Ore”. If Leifur has a son in the future, he will be the “Son of Leifur”, “Leifursson”, and if daughter – “Leifursdottir.” And so on.
Here my little story and guide come to an end. I suggest that if you are tired of the stress of the big city, traffic jams, huge metropolises filled with concrete, people, advertising and cars if you want the lightness of being, fresh air and unspoiled nature – visit Iceland, this exotic and unforgettable little planet.