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Honeymoon in Iceland

Discover Iceland

Think of Iceland and there are several familiar associations: hip Reykjavík, the beautiful therapeutic Blue Lagoon, or perhaps our musical exports Björk or Sigur Rós. But this land of boiling mud pools, spurting geysers, glaciers and waterfalls is also an adventure playground. Its breathtaking landscape is an inspiration to artists and photographers. Iceland is the least densely populated country in Europe, with a pure, unpolluted and truly magical landscape.

Iceland’s summers are surprisingly warm, lush and green, with days lengthening until midsummer, when the sun dips down to the horizon but never sets. During winter you can marvel at the amazing, undulating green, blue, yellow and pink lights of the aurora in the night sky, and the winters are not as cold as you might imagine. Regardless of when you visit, you can be assured of the warmth of the Icelanders’ welcome and their desire to share their culture and make every effort to ensure that your stay is a pleasant one.

See and do

Much of Iceland is still taking shape before your very eyes – raw, dramatic landscapes born from volcanic eruptions and carved out by glaciers. Other parts have hardly changed since the first Viking settlers saw them more than 1,100 years ago. You’ll experience wilderness and wildlife, energy and total calm, within easy reach wherever you stay, even on day trips.
You can interact with Iceland’s world of natural wonders in endless ways.

Some activities, such as swimming in geothermally heated pools, are part of the everyday lifestyle. Others are ideal ways to relax from the stress and cares of modern life. Yet others offer you the challenge of the mightiest forces that nature can muster.

Reykjavík - Pure Energy

Recharge and Relax in Iceland´s Capital

icelandShaped by the energy of the earth, bustling with the energy of a cosmopolitan capital, surrounded by the pure unpolluted energy of nature, Reykjavík is a city of striking contrasts. Small corrugated iron houses nestle next to futuristic glass buildings; state-of-the-art facilities lie minutes away from rugged volcanic terrain; and international influences mingle with Icelandic national traditions to create a unique culture where old embraces new.

Reykjavík’s neighbouring communities are also well worth a visit. In the town of Hafnarfjörður, Viking culture is still alive and well: the restaurant Fjörukráin organises Viking banquets all year around, and the town also hosts the annual international Viking festival. People come from all over the world to demonstrate how the Vikings did battle, carved wood and bone, wove fabric, and made ornaments and weapons. And of course there is Viking food and music to be enjoyed. And before you leave Hafnarfjörður, why not take a look at the small but beautiful Hellisgerði park?

Between the towns of Kópavogur and Garðabær, there’s a big shopping mall called Smáralind where many cultural events are organised, including exhibitions, concerts and song contests. Kópavogur also has an art gallery (Gerðarsafn) and a Natural History museum.

In Seltjarnarnes, to the west of Reykjavík, there is a medical museum at Nesstofan, housed in one of the oldest buildings in Iceland, which dates from 1761–1763. To the north, the community of Mosfellsbær has a museum devoted to the Nobel-prize-winning (1955) author Halldór Laxness.

Like the city itself, all the communities around Reykjavík boast golf courses, presenting you with quite a choice! And of course, all have wonderful open-air thermal pools, most of which also provide fitness facilities.

icelandJust outside the urban area, the Heiðmörk nature reserve offers opportunities for walking, mountain biking or horse trekking. There are also riding stables in Hafnarfjörður and Mosfellsbær, where you can try out Icelandic horses which are very different from other breeds. Although small, they are extremely strong and sturdy, with five gaits, two more than most other horse breeds. One of these, the “tölt”, is extremely comfortable for the rider and can be sustained over long distances.

Reykjavík is a convenient starting point for all kinds of excursions, which enable you to explore a large part of Iceland without so much as having to pack a suitcase. In addition to bus tours to all the “must-see” places, domestic flights can be taken to destinations that are further afield. Whale-watching boat trips are available from late March until mid October, and for those who like some real action, biking, hiking, angling, diving, river rafting, skiing (in winter) and kayaking are just some of the activities on offer.

West Iceland

Natural Variety

icelandIn the West and the West Fjords, one can read the geological history of Iceland, from its formation 15-16 million years ago until about the time of the settlement in the ninth century, which is when volcanic activity ceased in the region. The oldest rock formations are found at Kögur in the West Fjords, the youngest in the inner reaches of Borgarfjörður, and the region has an unusually wide variety of natural features.

Every kind of volcano is found here, and water flows from the earth in every form, from cool, sparkling mineral water to Europe’s most voluminous hot spring, Deildartunguhver, from which water pours at 97°C at a rate of 180 litres per second. The clearest sign of volcanism is the perfectly formed crater of Snæfellsjökull, with its glacial cap, at the tip of the Snæfellsnes peninsula, to which various mysterious powers have been attributed. This is now a National Park, and Snæfellsnes is now benchmarked as a Green Globe 21 sustainable community with emphasis on tourism.

In Stykkishólmur, New York Artist Roni Horn has opened the “Library of Water”. The main room of the library features a series of 24 glass columns filled with water, originally collected as ice from various Icelandic glaciers. Words are written on the floor, reflecting in the glass.

The birdlife of the region is also varied. Breiðafjörður is a mecca for birdwatchers, who may even spot the monarch of Icelandic birds, the white-tailed eagle.

North Iceland

icelandSummer Sun

Flourishing villages and farming communities, soaring mountain peaks, offshore islands and a landscape in formation make the North of Iceland a unique world of its own.

In the western part of the region, volcanic forces are no longer active, and since the end of the Ice Age the landscape has been moulded by rivers into smooth hills interspersed with some of Iceland’s finest angling rivers. On either side of Eyjafjörður rise high, ancient mountain ranges opening here and there into valleys, and in the north, marine erosion has created splendid cliffs. This area is popular with mountain hikers.

The Midnight Sun is an extraordinary spectacle in these northern latitudes: around the summer solstice, the sun sinks down to touch the horizon before rising again in breathtaking tones of red and gold.

East and Southeast Iceland

icelandThe East - Amazing Contrasts

In East Iceland, the visitor will be astonished by the variety and contrast of the landscape. You will find everything, from impressive fjords to friendly and peaceful fishing villages, from fertile and forested valleys to unique geological phenomena. All this is set against a background of impressive mountains and – farther away – Vatnajökull Glacier.

For the active tourist, there are superb hiking routes through verdant valleys and along high mountain ridges, both for those who prefer short hikes and for the passionate hiker who wants to go on for days and even weeks. The East Fjords are a magnificent landscape of long, narrow fjords, steep mountains and jagged peaks. This is one of the oldest regions of Iceland, which was shaped by glaciers in the Ice Age. Glacial action uncovered magma chambers that had been about 3 km beneath the surface, where zeolites had formed. These beautiful rocks can now be seen along the coast; for example at Teigarhorn. Off the shore are grassy islands that can be visited by boat.

South Iceland

Nowhere on earth is the junction between the European and American tectonic plates in the Earth’s crust as clear as on the Reykjanes peninsula in the southwest, and at Þingvellir: the plates diverge here by as much as 2 cm per year. But the gap is constantly being filled, as volcanoes have been erupting regularly throughout Iceland’s history.

icelandÞingvellir is by far Iceland’s most famous historic site. The Alþingi, or general assembly, first met there in AD930, and continued to do so for nearly nine centuries, until 1798. Various important events in the Icelandic Sagas took place at Þingvellir, and in 1930 it was declared a National Park. In 2004 Þingvellir was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

But the region has other attractions: places of outstanding natural beauty include magnificent waterfalls, of which Gullfoss (Golden Falls) is the best known. In many geothermal areas villages have grown up, where exotic fruits and vegetables are grown in greenhouses heated by hot springs.

The best known hot spring is Geysir, from which derives the English word “geyser” for spouting hot springs: the big Geysir is surrounded by many more springs of all shapes and sizes. Tourists in the region can experience its varied and picturesque natural landscape through such activities as horseback riding, white-water rafting, and glacier trips.

Facts about Iceland

icelandThe Country

Iceland is an island of 103,000 km2 (39,756 sq.miles), about one-third larger than Scotland or Ireland. Its highest peak, Hvannadalshnjúkur, rises to 2,119 m and over 11 per cent of the country is covered by glaciers, including Vatnajökull, the largest in Europe.

People

Out of a population numbering more than 300,000, half live in the capital Reykjavík and its neighbouring towns in the southwest. Keflavík International Airport is located about 50 km from the capital. The highland interior is uninhabited (and uninhabitable), and most centres of population are situated on the coast.

Language

Iceland was settled by Nordic people in the 9th century - tradition says that the first permanent settler was Ingólfur Arnarson, a Norwegian Viking who made his home where Reykjavík now stands. The Icelanders still speak the language of the Vikings, although modern Icelandic has undergone changes of pronunciation and, of course, of vocabulary! Iceland is alone in upholding another Norse tradtion, i.e. the custom of using patronymics rather than surnames; and an Icelander´s christian name is followed by his or her father´s name and the suffix -son or -dóttir, e.g. Guðrún Pétursdóttir (Guðrún, daughter of Pétur). Members of a family can therefore have many different "surnames", which sometimes causes confusion to foreigners!

A Country for All Seasons

Iceland offers a wide choice of experiences for the traveller, regardless of when you visit the country. Every season has its own unique charm and there are always opportunities to experience new things, discover beauty and be mesmerized by the freshness and colours of nature. Every season will leave you with a host of unforgettable memories.

Nature´s variety show

icelandGeologically speaking, Iceland is a very young country; its creation began less than 20 million years ago and is still progressing today. Volcanic eruptions in the Mid Atlantic Ridge, on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, created a mountain which grew above sea level, resulting in an island. So Iceland truly has a volcanic origin. This is illustrated by the presence of picturesque lava fields, craters, volcanoes, table mountains, mountains of pumice and fields of volcanic ash.

Iceland’s wildlife

Iceland’s wildlife reflects the youth of the country. There are relatively few insect species and only a handful of wild mammals. In the ninth century, when the first settlers arrived in Iceland, the only native mammal was the Arctic fox, but later on other species were introduced by man. Birds are still discovering Iceland and new species are regularly observed. There are no reptiles and amphibians, and there are simply no dangerous animals!

icelandInteraction between volcanic activity and ice or water

Due to the northerly location of the country, there is a good deal of interaction between volcanic activity and ice or water. In the Kverkfjöll area, hot springs rising beneath the glacier have created impressive ice caves. At times volcanic eruptions occur under glaciers, causing massive melting of the ice, often dramatically fast.

Vegetation

Another consequence of Iceland’s location in the Arctic that will amaze the visitor is the vegetation. The summer is short, so flowers that bloom in different months further south all bloom at the same time in Iceland. They do not always grow as tall as they do further south: orchids and gentians are plentiful in Iceland but are smaller than elsewhere. The energy and heat in Iceland’s soil create conditions that are unique at this latitude and make the vegetation much richer than one would expect.

Thinner earth crust

icelandThe Earth’s crust is much thinner under Iceland than it is under Europe or America. As a result, the molten rock is closer to the surface and heats up the groundwater deep in the earth, giving rise to numerous hot springs. In many places the natural hot water is used for space heating and to fill swimming pools, and of course the boiling, bubbling hot springs are an extraordinary sight. This is particularly true in the Geysir area, where the geyser Strokkur produces a high column of boiling water every 15 minutes or so.

The environment is important to the Icelanders

Over the millennia, glaciers, erosion and the tectonic movement of the Earth’s crust have helped to shape the landscape. Great rivers have formed, containing countless waterfalls, of all shapes and sizes. In fact, there are so many that not all the waterfalls even have names. The rivers are a great source of environmentally friendly energy, of which the Icelanders gratefully avail themselves. The environment is important to the Icelanders and they are continually searching for newer and better solutions. The use of hydrogen and other new sources of energy, in some countries considered a dream for the future, is already becoming a reality in Iceland.

Glaciers

Ten per cent of Iceland is covered with glaciers, vast, magnificent worlds of ice. Every year they move and change a little, sometimes growing in cold periods and sometimes, as in recent years, shrinking. Glaciers are naturally white, but in some areas volcanic ash has fallen or been blown on to them by the wind, turning the glacial tongues black. In many places you can see layers of white and black in the ice, because in winter any layers of black ash or sand on a glacier will be covered with fresh snow. The glaciers move forward, pushing soil, sand and stones before them, but they can also retreat. This can result in picturesque lakes where icebergs float. There are quite a few of these in Iceland, the most spectacular being the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon in the southeast. This is part of the new Vatnajökull National Park, the biggest in Europe, which encompasses the Vatnajökull ice cap.

Source: http://www.visiticeland.com

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